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Our Lab

Principal Investigator

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Dr. Hansen He

Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network
Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto
Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Brazilian Ball Chair in Prostate Cancer Research, University of Toronto

hansenhe@uhnresearch.ca

Dr. He is an experimental and computational biologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. His research program focuses on understanding epigenetic mechanisms underlying cancer development, progression and therapy response, with the aim of identifying epigenetic biomarkers and therapeutic targets to improve treatment outcomes of cancer patients.

Dr. He obtained his PhD in molecular biology and bioinformatics at the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2008. He then received postdoctoral training under the joint supervision of computational biologist Dr. Shirley Liu and cancer biologist Dr. Myles Brown at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard University. Dr. He was recruited as a scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and assistant professor at the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto in 2013. He was promoted to senior scientist and associate professor in 2018.

Dr. He is recognized internationally for three discoveries that include pioneering the use of chromatin dynamics to predict transcription factor binding, elucidating the roles of noncoding RNAs in cancer biology and illuminating epigenetic vulnerabilities in cancer cells. Dr. He has authored over 70 publications at high profile journals including Cell (2018, 2019), Nature Genetics (2016, 2020) and Nature Cell Biology (2020). The translational research in Dr. He’s laboratory has resulted in one phase II clinical trial and two patents. Dr. He has received many distinctions and recognitions, including a number of new investigator awards from national funding agencies, as well as being named a rising star in prostate cancer research.

Staff

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Amelia Navarrete

Administrative Assistant

amelia.navarrete@uhnresearch.ca

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Nayeema Akhtar

Lab Manager & Research Technician II

nayeema.akhtar@uhnresearch.ca

Nayeema has a MSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Dhaka, with a focus on Immunology and vaccine development. She manages the day- to- day operation of He lab to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Postdoctoral Fellows

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Dr. Yujuan Wang

Postdoctoral Fellow

yujuan.wang42@gmail.com

Yujuan obtained her PhD from Beijing Normal University. She is currently joining the project of prostate cancer m6A profiling to carry out some validation experiments. Next, she is going to carry out a series of CRISPR screens in cancer cell lines, including but not limited to targeting RNA m6A modifications.

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Dr. Xin Xu

Postdoctoral Fellow

xin.xu.bio@gmail.com

Xin completed his first postdoc program at the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. After that, he joined He lab in October 2016. Currently, he is working on identifying functional circRNA in prostate cancer, and aim to provide new improved biomarkers and therapy targets that will lead to better diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

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Dr. Xinpei Ci

Postdoctoral Fellow

xinpei.ci@uhnresearch.ca

Xinpei obtained her PhD degree in Genetics at Nankai University, China, and received a two-year joint training at Emory University, USA. Her PhD work studied the role of a prostate cancer suppressor gene by using genetically engineered mouse models. She completed her first postdoc training under the supervision of Dr.Yuzhuo Wang at the Vancouver Prostate Centre, UBC, where she utilized patient-derived xenograft models to identify and study driver genes in prostate cancer hormonal therapy resistance. Xinpei joined Dr. Hansen He’s lab in December 2020 and is currently working on epigenetic mechanisms involved in neuroendocrine prostate cancer.

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Dr. Tianyi Chen

Postdoctoral Fellow

tianyi.chen@uhn.ca

Tianyi attended Purdue University for college where she majored in Math and Biology. After graduation, she worked as a Research Associate at Indiana University Bloomington for about two years before attending graduate school at Duke University in 2016. For her PhD, she worked on liver regeneration project in which she applied single-cell omics analysis and molecular genetics to understand how mammalian liver orchestrates its effective tissue recovery in response to acute injury. Tianyi joined He lab in September 2022. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, hiking, running, and playing with her cat.

Graduate Students

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Peiran Su

Peiran received his Honours of Bachelor of Science degree at University of Toronto in Biochemistry. He is now a PhD Candidate in the Department of Medical Biophysics. Peiran is co-supervised by Dr. Ming Tsao. His research is focused on extending the CRISPR screens into SCLC PDX models.

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Mona Teng

Mona obtained her Honours Bachelor of Science at University of Toronto with a specialist in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and a major in Biochemistry. She is currently a PhD Candidate in the department of Medical Biophysics. Her current project focuses on characterizing circular RNAs implicated in neuroendocrine prostate cancer. Mona is also co-supervised by Dr. Brian Raught to develop a new method for elucidating RNA-protein interactome.

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Helen Zhu

Helen received her undergraduate degree from McMaster University in the BHSc (Hons) program with a specialization in Biochemistry and a minor in Mathematics. She is currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Medical Biophysics. Her current project focuses on M6A modifications in cancer.

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Peter Her

Peter obtained his bachelor’s degree from McGill University with a major in Pharmacology. He is currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Medical Biophysics, co-supervised by Dr. Benjamin Haibe-Kains. He is interested in characterizing the molecular mechanism and clinical utilization of RNA circularization, and looking at circular RNAs involved in immune regulation and tumour immunity.

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Vivian Chu

Vivian obtained her Honours Bachelor of Science at the University of Waterloo in Molecular Genetics and Bioinformatics. She is currently a PhD Student in the Department of Medical Biophysics, co-supervised by Dr. Bo Wang. She is interested in applying deep learning algorithms to improve RNA therapeutic development and multi-omic integration to decipher cancer etiology.

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Magnus Lam

Magnus obtained his Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto Scarborough in the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Co-op program. He spent his Co-op term at the Princess Margaret Cancer Biobank as a Technician. He is currently a MSc student in the Department of Medical Biophysics. His research interests are identifying epigenetic-based therapeutic targets in prostate cancer and the potential of using circulating bacterial DNA methylome as a cancer biomarker.

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Lin Yang

Lin obtained his master’s degree in Bioinformatics from George Washington University in the U.S. He is currently a PhD Student in the Department of Medical Biophysics. He is interested in methodology development based on high-throughput sequencing data specific for single-cell level. Lin is also co-supervised by Dr. Schwartz to develop new algorithms to integrate multiple modularities to infer cell lineage.

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Alison Chan

Alison obtained her Honours Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto with a specialist in Pharmacology and Toxicology. She is currently a MSc student in the Department of Medical Biophysics, co-supervised by Dr. Benjamin Lok. She is interested in studying the role of circular RNAs in small-cell lung cancer development, and investigating their clinical potential as therapeutic targets and diagnostic biomarkers.

Undergraduate Students

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Nicholas Lo

Research Student

nicholas.lo@uhn.ca

Nicholas obtained his Bachelor of Medical Sciences with an Honours Specialization in Physiology and Pharmacology from Western University. He is currently working in a collaboration between He Lab and Synth-Med Biotechnology to utilize RBC vesicles as a novel delivery system for RNA-based cancer therapies.

Alumni

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