Follow mitoNET 

Copyright © 2018, MitoNET. All Rights Reserved.


Project Leader

Aaron Schimmer, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Staff Physician and Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Associate Director, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Research Institute
Professor University of Toronto

Research Description

Dr. Schimmer is a Staff Physician and Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network and Ontario Cancer Institute. He is the Associate Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Research Institute/ Ontario Cancer Institute. He is an executive member and head of basic research in the Department of Medical Oncology and Hmatology at the Princess Margaret. Dr. Schimmer holds the Baker Chair in Leukemia and Related Diseases at the University Health Network. Dr. Schimmer is a Professor in the departments of Medicine and Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. He is also a Past President of the Canadian Hematology Society.

The Schimmer lab is focused in on developing new therapeutic strategies for leukaemia with an interest in targeting unique biological vulnerabilities in the mitochondria of AML and AML stem cells. He has advanced 3 drugs into clinical trial from his lab and has been the Principal Investigator on 10 additional clinical trials of novel agents for leukaemia. Dr. Schimmer is the author of over 205 publications and is an inventor on over 20 patent applications. He has received over 35 awards and honours for academic achievement including Member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, Scholar in Clinical Research by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Bernard and Francine Dorval young investigator award from the Canadian Cancer Society.


Paul Spagnuolo, PhD
Associate Professor, Food Science Department
University of Guelph
Ontario Stem Cell Initiative and Stem Cell Network, Member
Board of Directors for the Natural Health Products Research Society of Canada
Research Description
Dr. Spagnuolo received his Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo in 2008 and was a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Aaron Schimmer's lab at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre from 2008-2012. He began his independent lab in 2012 and has published over 30 papers (8 as corresponding author) with and h-index of 16 with over 1100 citations. He is the recipient of several prestigious research awards including the Mead Johnson Award from the American Society for Nutrition, which recognizes a young investigator for a single outstanding piece of nutrition research, and the 2017 International Award for Bioinnovation by the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology
His research focuses on the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) with specific emphasis on nutraceuticals (i.e., food-derived bioactive compounds). His lab has discovered 4 novel anti-cancer agents, filed 3 patents and has initiated a Phase I Clinical Trial in healthy human subjects.  Currently, Dr. Spagnuolo is evaluating how drug-targeting of mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial bioenergetics could be useful therapeutic strategies for AML.
Guri Nina Giaever, PhD.
Associate Professor
Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia
Co-founder of Genetic Networks LLC
Research Description
Dr. Giaever is a molecular geneticist and genome scientist whose research focuses on understanding the cellular response to genetic and chemical perturbation at a systems level, Towards this end, she has pioneered the development of genome-wide technologies to understand precise mechanisms of drug action on- as well as off- target effects including those potentially advantageous (for repurposingg of approved drugs) and/or detrimental (resulting in unwanted side-effects) with a particular emphasis on the identification of novel, "undruggable" targets that can be exploited for chemotherapeutic intervention.
Most recently, Dr. Giaever has designed experiments to leverage her lab's observation that the cellular response to small molecules can be described by a network of chemogenkomic signatures each associated with gene, biological pathway and chemical structures. These efforts include understanding the role of genetic and non-genetic variation at the single-cell level to predict the response to drug treatment. The non-genetic features of the drug response align with her interest in mitochondria-specific vulnerabilities for drug discovery and development and is essential for extending these chemogenkomic observations to the clinic.
Corey Nislow, PhD
Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in translational Genomics
Director, University of British Columbia (UBC) Sequencing and Bioinformatics Consortium
Faculty Advisor, UBC Advanced Research Computing
Laboratory Scientist, Creative Destruction Labs
Associate Professor Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC
Research Description
Dr. Nislow is a cell biologist and geneticist whose lab employs genomics and develops biotechnology tools to address both fundamental and applied biological questions using technologies such as parallel genome-wide chemical genomic screens, high throughput cell-based screens, and next generation sequencing. His research program has developed and deployed an array of chemical genomic tools for systems biology, including protocols to perform genome-wide screens on the International Space Station, to which he has launched four science missions. He is the lead researcher for the Genomics for Precision Drug Therapy in the Community Pharmacy, a first-in-Canada trial that empowers patients to directly access their genome data for medication management. Dr. Nislow has been involved in a few notable scientific projects; cloning the first human mitotic kinesis, identifying the founding member of the SET family of chromatin modifiers, and producing the first comprehensive genome-wide map of nucleosome occupancy in an organism. Dr. Nislow is an accomplished academic with 170 peer-reviewed publications and 6 patents as well as an enthusiastic instructor who enjoys teaching all aspects of biotechnology, genomics, and drug discovery for students and trainees.
Several of his current projects focus on understanding mitochondrial biology with an emphasis on exploiting mitochondria-specific vulnerabilities for drug discovery and development. Together with Dr. Guri Giaever, he has developed novel assays to use 'reverse chemical genetics' to systematically screen millions of variants in conserved mitochondrial drug targets.
David Andrews, Ph.D.,
Director and Senior Scientist, Biological Sciences, Sunnybrook Research Institute
Canada Research Chair in Membrane Biogenesis
Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Medical Biophysics
Editorial Board, BMC Cell Biology; Molecular & Cellular Oncology; Cell Death and Differentiation
Steering Committee: NIH High Content Data Integration Working Group, Cancer Biomarkers Consortium
Scientific Advisory Board, TDS, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
Scientific Advisory Board, MCFOCAL a microscope company
Research Description
Dr. Andrews research includes, the molecular mechanisms by which Bcl-2 family proteins regulate apoptosis at mitochondria, the assembly of proteins into membranes, high-content screening and development of new microscopes for fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) and hyper spectral imaging. Together with the National Optics Institute in Laval Quebec he is currently commercializing a new instrument that enables measurement of the affinities for protein-protein interactions in live cells. The prototype of this instrument was used to make the first measurements of interactions between Bcl-2 family proteins in mitochondrial outer-membrane proteins that were published in Mol. Cell in 2012.
Dr. Andrews uses fluorescence spectroscopy and automated fluorescence microscopy to study interactions between proteins in mitochondrial membranes, protein localization in cells and the effects of drugs on cells. He has been publishing in the area of machine learning and automated image processing since 1982. He established a facility for image-based high-content cellular analysis at SRI that includes instrumentation for automated imaging and analysis of cells in monolayer and 3D cultures, genome scale gene knockdown and screening of libraries of small molecules. His lab has discovered and characterized small molecules that accelerate and inhibit Bcl-2 family protein mediated mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization that have application to cancer and regenerative medicine.

Steven Chan, PhD

Dr. Chan received his medical and research training at Stanford University in California where he earned his MD and PhD degree in Immunology. He completed his internal medicine residency and adult hematology fellowship at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. He joined Princess Margaret Cancer Centre as a clinician scientist and staff physician in the Leukemia Program in August 2015. His current research is focused on the role of mitochondria in AML development and cell fate decision in leukemia stem cells. In addition, his lab is interested in developing novel AML therapies that target metabolic pathways. See More