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Dr. Sebastien Martinez

2017/18 Honourary Fellow:
Dr. Sebastien Martinez

Developing clinically-relevant in vivo model to identify novel pancreatic cancer genes

Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of death due to cancer in Canada, with the most dramatic survival rate of any major cancer, at only 6%. The next generation sequencing technologies have led to an explosion of whole genome association studies over the last decade, helping clinicians to identify hundreds of somatic mutations accumulated in patient’s tumor cells. However, only a few of them impact driver genes, and are responsible for cancer progression and metastasis. Studies are now generating massive quantity of data from cancer genomics, but we are still missing understanding of the functional consequence of most genetic alterations.

Mouse models of human cancers constitute the golden standard for genetic perturbation studies but are extremely time and resource intensive, rendering them inapt to test genetic alterations emerging from large-scale genomics projects. To overcome the caveats of current mouse models, we are developing in vivo approaches to simultaneously assess the function of hundreds of putative pancreatic cancer genes within their native tissue environment in the pancreas of a single mouse. This approach allows us to precisely re-enact the complex genetic events found in human tumors to identify real driver genes. Once these genes are identified, they can be studied further and targeted specifically to improve cancer treatment efficiency.

Past Fellows:

2016: Dr. Dohee Lee
Topic: Target Discovery Anti-cancer Drug Development

2015: Dr. Brandon Panaro
Topic: Genetic Causes of Severe Obesity in Humans

2014: Dr. Adrian Gunaratne
Topic: Using Leading-Edge Genetic Tools to Personalize Care for Patients with Bladder Cancer

2013: Dr. John Ussher
Topic: There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Linking Gut Hormones to Heart Attack

2012: Dr. Ioannis Prassas
Topic: Drug Re-Purposing: New Uses for Old Drugs (Cardio Glycosides on the Road to Cancer Therapeutics)

2011: Dr. Caroline Badouel
Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Helen McNeill
Topic: Identification of New, Effective Therapies for Neurological Cancers

2010: Iacovos Michael
Doctoral candidate in Dr. Andras Nagy’s lab
Topic: New and improved therapies for cancer

2009: Azadeh Golipour
Fellow in Dr. Jeff Wrana’s Laboratory
Topic: Reprogramming and Cancer Stem Cell