Dr. John Dick

Co-Leader, Acute Leukemia TRI

Dr. John Dick’s world-renowned research program centres on the theme that genetic and non-genetic determinants of tumour heterogeneity are linked through stemness. This is based on his research that identified a shared genetic signature between hematopoietic stem cells and leukemic stem cells that predicts survival across a wide spectrum of leukemias. Dr. Dick will extend these findings by developing a map of the determinants of stemness. This will enable genetic, epigenetic and proteomic studies that will enhance the robustness of prognostic cancer stem cell signatures and identify novel therapeutic targets that control stemness.

He will also continue his research describing the functional and genomic clonal heterogeneity in leukemia. Through characterizing this diversity among leukemic populations, Dr. Dick will be able to examine the functional properties and therapeutic responses of individual subclones. These studies in leukemia are guided by parallel studies his team has undertaken to define the landscape of normal human hematopoietic development. This combined program will lead to deep insights into the stemness programs that lie at the heart of stem cell functioning. Ultimately his research program will lead to new clinically meaningful biomarker tests and novel therapeutic agents that target tumour stem cells.

Current affiliations

  • Co-leader, OICR Acute Leukemia TRI;
  • Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology, Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network;
  • Investigator, McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University Health Network;
  • Professor, Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, University of Toronto.

Research interests

  • Stem cells;
  • Cancer stem cells;
  • Clonal evolution;
  • Acute myeloid leukemia;
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Select publications

Ng SWK, Mitchell A, Kennedy JA, Chen WC, McLeod J, Ibrahimova N, Arruda A, Popescu A, Gupta V, Schimmer AD, Schuh AC, Yee KW, Bullinger L, Herold T, Görlich D, Büchner T, Hiddemann W, Berdel WE, Wörmann B, Cheok M, Preudhomme C, Dombret H, Metzeler K, Buske C, Löwenberg B, Valk PJM, Zandstra PW, Minden MD, Dick JE, and Wang JCY.
A 17-gene stemness score for rapid determination of risk in acute leukaemia.
Nature. 2016; 540(7633):433-437.

Lechman ER, Gentner B, Ng SW, Schoof EM, van Galen P, Kennedy JA, Nucera S, Ciceri F, Kaufmann KB, Takayama N, Dobson SM, Trotman-Grant A, Krivdova G, Elzinga J, Mitchell A, Nilsson B, Hermans KG, Eppert K, Marke R, Isserlin R, Voisin V, Bader GD, Zandstra PW, Golub TR, Ebert BL, Lu J, Minden M, Wang JC, Naldini L, Dick JE.
miR-126 Regulates Distinct Self-Renewal Outcomes in Normal and Malignant Hematopoietic Stem Cells. 
Cancer Cell. 
2016; 29(4):602-606.

Notta F, Zandi S, Takayama N, Dobson S, Gan OI, Wilson G, Kaufmann KB, McLeod J, Laurenti E, Dunant CF, McPherson JD, Stein LD, Dror Y, Dick JE.
Distinct routes of lineage development reshape the human blood hierarchy across ontogeny.
Science. 2016; 351(6269):aab2116.

Shlush LI, Zandi S, Mitchell A, Chen WC, Brandwein JM, Gupta V, Kennedy JA, Schimmer AD, Schuh AC, Yee KW, McLeod JL, Doedens M, Medeiros JJ, Marke R, Kim HJ, Lee K, McPherson JD, Hudson TJ; HALT Pan-Leukemia Gene Panel Consortium, Brown AM, Trinh QM, Stein LD, Minden MD, Wang JC, Dick JE.
Identification of pre-leukaemic haematopoietic stem cells in acute leukaemia.
Nature. 2014; 506(7488):328-33.

Van Galen P, Kreso A, Mbong N, Wienholds E, Xie S, Laurenti E, Eppert K, Wouters BG, Dick JE.
The unfolded protein response governs integrity of the human hematopoietic stem-cell pool during stress.
Nature. 2014; 510(7504):268-72.

See Dr. Dick’s recent publications on PubMed.


  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Gold Leaf for Discovery, 2017;
  • American Association for Cancer Research, Fellow of the AACR Academy, 2016;
  • Royal Society of London, Fellow, 2014;
  • Canadian Cancer Research Alliance, Award for Outstanding Achievements in Cancer Research, 2013.

Previous experience and education

  • Program Director, Cancer Stem Cell Program, OICR;
  • Medical Research, Council of Canada Scientist;
  • Senior Scientist, Department of Genetics, Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children;
  • Research Scientist of the National Cancer Institute of Canada;
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. A. Bernstein, Ontario Cancer Institute and Mount Sinai Hospital, Research Institute, University of Toronto, Medical Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship;
  • PhD, Microbiology and Biochemistry, University of Manitoba.

Related links

University Health Network Researcher Profile – Dr. John Dick

John Dick’s Lab

Opportunities to collaborate

The John Dick lab is open to collaboration. Contact labinfo@jdstemcellresearch.ca for more information. 

Visit OICR’s Collaborative Research Resources directory for more opportunities to collaborate with OICR researchers.


Sally De Silva