John Dick


Dr. John Dick and his team investigate the genetic programs that control human blood stem cells (HSCs) to determine how changes in these programs lead to generating leukemia initiating cells. Dr. Dick’s lab has developed a novel NOD/SCID xenotransplant assays for human HSCs and primitive progenitors (Nature 1994) and methods for modelling initiation and progression of leukemia through genetic manipulation (Science 2007) that have provided insight into human hematopoiesis and leukemia development. Dr. Dick has made many advances in these research areas using these systems. Most recently, a major goal within the OICR Cancer Stem Cell Program has been achieved by showing that the genetic characteristics of leukaemia-initiating cells from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients are better at predicting clinical outcome than the majority of AML cells. This is the first time it has been described that leukemia initiating cells are significant not just in experimental models but also for patients (Nature Medicine, 2011). His team has also interrogated the genetics of leukemia and discovered that genetic diversity occurs in functionally defined leukaemia-initiating cells and that many diagnostic patient samples contain multiple genetically distinct leukaemia-initiating cell subclones. This will likely be extremely important when considering personalized medicine strategies (Nature 2011). His team has also isolated a human blood stem cell in its purest form – as a single stem cell capable of regenerating the entire blood system (Science 2011). This breakthrough opens the door to harnessing the power of these life-producing cells to treat cancer and other debilitating diseases more effectively.

Contact Information

Ms. Melissa Anders

melissa [dot] andersatuhnresearch [dot] ca


2007 - Program Director, Cancer Stem Cells Program, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR).
2007 - Investigator, McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University Health Network.
2002 - Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology, Senior Scientist, Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University Health Network.
1995 - Professor, Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, University of Toronto.
1996 - 2001Medical Research, Council of Canada Scientist.
1991 - 2002Senior Scientist, Department of Genetics, Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children.
1989 - 1996Research Scientist of the, National Cancer Institute of Canada.
1984 - 1986Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. A. Bernstein, Ontario Cancer Institute and Mount Sinai Hospital, Research Institute, University of Toronto, Medical Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship.
1984PhD Microbiology and Biochemistry, University of Manitoba.

Research Output

  • Eppert K, Takenaka K, Lechman ER, Waldron L, Nilsson B, van Galen P, Metzeler KH, Poeppl A, Ling V, Beyene J, Canty AJ, Danska JS, Bohlander SK, Buske C, Minden MD, Golub TR, Jurisica I, Ebert BL, Dick JE.
    Stem cell gene expression programs influence clinical outcome in human leukemia.
    • Nat Med. 2011 Aug 28;17(9):1086-93. doi: 10.1038/nm.2415.
  • Notta F, Doulatov S, Laurenti E, Poeppl A, Jurisica I, Dick JE.
    Isolation of single human hematopoietic stem cells capable of long-term multilineage engraftment.
    • Science. 2011 Jul 8;333(6039):218-21.
  • Notta F, Mullighan CG, Wang JC, Poeppl A, Doulatov S, Phillips LA, Ma J, Minden MD, Downing JR, Dick JE.
    Evolution of human BCR-ABL1 lymphoblastic leukaemia-initiating cells.
    • Nature. 2011 Jan 20;469(7330):362-7. Erratum in: Nature. 2011 Mar 10;471(7337):254.
  • Milyavsky M, Gan OI, Trottier M, Komosa M, Tabach O, Notta F, Lechman E, HermansKG, Eppert K, Konovalova Z, Ornatsky O, Domany E, Meyn MS, Dick JE.
    A Distinctive DNA Damage Response in Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells Reveals an Apoptosis-Independent Role for p53 in Self-Renewal.
    • Cell Stem Cell. 2010 Aug 6;7(2):186-197. Epub 2010 Jul 8.
  • Doulatov S, Notta F, Eppert K, Nguyen LT, Ohashi PS, Dick JE.
    A revised map of the human progenitor hierarchy reveals the origin of macrophages and dendritic cells in early lymphoid development.
    • Nat Immunol. 2010 Jul;11(7):585-93. Epub 2010 Jun 13.