John McPherson

Picture of Dr. John McPherson


PhD, Queen's University

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
MaRS Centre, South Tower
101 College Street, Suite 800
Toronto, ON M5G 1L7

Phone: (416) 673-8519
Email Dr. John McPherson


Molecular Analysis of Tumors Through High-Throughput Sequencing

Cancer results from a multistage process involving the accumulation of genomic alterations that alter the structure, function and/or expression of proteins that control essential cellular processes involved in cell growth, differentiation, proliferation and death through apoptosis. Changes in these critical functions lead to their dysregulation and neoplastic transformation. The initial variations in the DNA sequence may be inherited through the germline or acquired somatically with the majority of cancers arising sporadically through the accumulation of somatic mutations. To date, there are over 400 known genes with causative mutations driving cancer. Recent advances in DNA sequencing have transformed the analysis of cancer and other diseases by enabling deep sequencing of genes and genomes.

The research focus in our laboratory is to define the molecular pathways involved in neoplastic transformation. in several tumor types with a current emphasis on pancreatic cancer. Using state-of-the-art high-throughput sequencing technologies, targeted and whole genome sequencing is revealing the patterns of somatic alterations underlying different tumor types. These patterns are being examined for prognostic and therapeutic value. One goal of our research is to streamline the sequencing and analysis process to enable tumor sequencing as part of the clinical process.

Technology development is also part of the laboratory focus with interests in improving the analysis of smaller tissue samples to enable more refined investigation of tissue sections as well as smaller biopsy samples.


List of Key Publications:

Link to Pubmed Publications
  • The International Cancer genome Consortium (2010). International Network of Cancer Genome Projects. Nature 465: 993-998.

  • Diamandis E, Voelkerding K, Drmanac R, Agus D, McPherson J (2009). Next-Generation Sequencing: A New Revolution in Molecular Diagnostics? Clin. Chem. 55: 1-5.

  • McPherson JD (2009). Next-Generation Gap. Nature Meth. Supplement, Next-generation sequencing data analysis. Volume 6, No.11s:S2-S5.

  • Korshunova Y, Maloney RK, Lakey N, Citek RW, Bacher B, Budiman A, Ordway JM, McCombie WR, Leon J, Jeddeloh JA, McPherson JD (2008). Massively parallel bisulphate pyrosequencing reveals the molecular complexity of breast cancer associated cytosine methylation patterns obtained from tissue and serum DNA. Genome Res. 18:19-29.