Annie Huang
MD, PhD, FRCP(C)
Principal Investigator

Dr Huang is a paediatric neuro-oncologist and scientist in the Cell Biology Research Program, and the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre at SickKids. She holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and is a Professor of Paediatrics, Lab Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, Canada.

She received her PhD and MD at the University of Toronto where she trained in cancer genomics and biology, and clinical oncology. Prior to starting her independent laboratory in 2005, she pursued post-doctoral training with Drs Jeremy Squire and Linda Penn at the Ontario Research Institute. She started the RBTC to pursue her long-standing research and clinical interest in rare infant brain tumours due to the distinct clinical challenges of these patient population. In her laboratory she combines genomics, functional epigenomics and genome-wide screening tools to understand the pathogenesis of rare CNS embryonal tumours, including ATRTs (Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid tumours), and ETMRs (Embryonal Tumour with Multi-layered Rosettes) with the goal to improve treatment and patient survival. Many of the discoveries from the Huang lab has been applied to analyses and development of clinical trials for rare tumours through her leadership in the Children’s Oncology Group Trial Consortia. Due to her specific clinical and research interest/expertise, she also frequently advises on treatment of children across the world diagnosed with rare CNS tumours.

In her leisure time, she enjoys historical fiction, gardening and pursuing travel and outdoor activities with her family.
Mei Lu
MD, PhD
Lab Manager

Mei Lu joined Huang lab since 2010. She received her MD in Beijing, China, and her PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Rome, Italy. Mei is the backbone of our lab and responsible for the lab general operation and research resources (tumour bank, cell line bank and RBTC, etc.). Mei is also responsible for lab mouse work and assists various lab research projects. She assists Annie in grant management and finance. Mei still finds time for painting and fitness. In her spare time, she is also a consultant of Chinese herbal medicine.

Xiaolian Fan
PhD
Lab Research Project Coordinator

Xiaolian has been working at SickKids since 2001 when she started as a post-doc in Dr. Don Mahuran’s lab. She joined Dr. Annie Huang's lab in 2016. Her research here has been focused on applying functional genomic assays, such as ATAC-seq, ChIP-seq, and HiChIP, to analyze ETMR and ATRT tumours in order to understand the mechanism of gene regulation thus molecular pathogenesis of these malignant paediatric embryonal brain tumours. She is also interested in using the proteomics approach to study the proteomes of ATRT and ETMR tumours to define novel genes and pathways associated with these aggressive tumours. She is currently working on generating stable cell lines to express genes that are important in ETMR pathogenesis, as well as using the CRISPR Cas9/dCas9 system to knockout/activate these genes. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, taking walks, and spending time with her family.
Salma Al-Karmi
PhD
Clinical Research Post-Doctoral Fellow

Salma is a synthetic chemist by training and received her PhD in Chemical Biology from McMaster University in 2016. Her interest in clinical translation led her to pursue a pursue a unique path as a research post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neuro-oncology and Haematology at the Hospital for Sick Children. After her fellowship, she transitioned into a management role where she helped managed the RBTC and liaised with drug companies, legal specialists, patient advocacy groups and international collaborators. In her free time, Salma enjoys photography, cooking, writing, and going to the gym.
Liming Xu
PhD
Bioinformatician

Liming Xu completed her PhD in Bioinformatics at Peking University in China. Since then she has worked as a bioinformatics scientist for a national research institute, a biological start-up, as well as a global company. Now she is a bioinformatician in the Huang Lab striving to understand the mechanism of paediatric tumours such as ETMR.
Sivan Gershanov
PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Sivan received her PhD in molecular biology from the Genomic Bioinformatics Laboratory at Ariel University in Israel. Her current project involves characterizing the genetic and epigenetic landscape of chromosome 22 in Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumours (ATRTs) and defining the nature and function of potential novel ATRT etiologic loci on chromosome 22. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, CrossFit workouts and outdoor activities with her family.

Dean Popovski
PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dean completed his PhD at the University of Monash in Melbourne, Australia and moved to SickKids to pursue his passion for research. His project in Dr. Huang’s lab is focused on understanding the tumour microenvironment of rare embryonal tumours to develop innovative cancer therapies. He is focused on understanding the role of the immune system in these rare paediatric brain tumours to understand how the tumour interacts or evades the host immune system. Through using the lab's large genomics data sets combined with their ability to test novel therapies in mouse models of rare embryonal tumours, he aims to discover and validate immunological agents to bring to the clinic.
Nikhil Raghuram
MD, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Nikhil is currently doing his fellowship in Paediatriac Haematology/Oncology at Sickkids. Prior to entering medical school, he did his PhD in Experimental Oncology under the guidance of Dr. Michael Hendzel's lab at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. There, he studied the role of histones and chromatin in influencing processes critical to life, such as transcription. His interests are in the field of epigenetics, and the biochemistry of tumour cells. Specifically, he is passionate about understanding the complex biology of paediatric brain tumours, given their clinical aggressiveness and the devastating effects it has on patients. It is becoming more clear that many of these tumours are driven by epigenetic modifications, leading the way for novel therapeutic interventions.

Sara Khan
MD
PhD Graduate Student

Sara trained as a neuro-oncologist in Melbourne, Australia and as a PhD Student with Monash University. Her research interest focus lies in combining biological, clinical and translational knowledge to improve risk stratification and develop novel therapies for embryonal brain tumours. She has devoted her translational research work in improving outcomes for children with brain tumours. Her work in Melbourne served as a backbone in molecular characterization of brain tumours. As the recipient of the prestigious Australian Loins Children’s Cancer foundation fellowship award she was able her to expand her translational research career at The Hospital for Sick Children in 2019. Outside of work in her free time she enjoys outdoor activities cycling and bushwalking with her young family.
Bryan Kincheon Li
MD, FRCPC
PhD Graduate Student

Dr. Li is a Royal College certified-paediatric haematologist/oncologist who completed his MD at the University of Toronto, and his residency and fellowship training at SickKids. He is currently a PhD candidate studying pineoblastoma, a rare brain tumour arising from the pineal gland and affecting mainly young children. They are very difficult to treat - only half of patients survive with aggressive therapy that frequently causes damaging long-term side-effects. Due to its rarity, little is known of pineoblastoma and therefore few improvements have been made to available treatments. Analysis of one of largest collections of this tumour collected through the international Rare Brain Tumour Consortium has determined that pineoblastoma separates into five different subgroups that have different molecular and clinical features (Li BK et al. 2019). These findings are currently guiding the search for more effective therapies against this cancer.
Ben Ho
M.Sc.
PhD Graduate Student

Ben is interested in understanding the epigenetics and spatial genomics regulation in embryonal brain tumour development. He has previously worked on elucidating cancer heterogeneity using computational modeling, statistical analyses and machine learning methods. He is currently working on integrating DNA accessibility and enhancer landscape data in identifying oncogenic drivers in ATRT subgroups. Outside of the lab, he enjoys music composition and performance as well as traveling.
Iqra Mumal
M.Sc.
PhD Graduate Student

Iqra Mumal, originally from Mississauga, Ontario, graduated with a bachelor of science in life sciences from Queen’s University and a master of science in cellular and molecular medicine from the University of Ottawa. Iqra is currently studying tumoural heterogeneity and the role of the miRNA cluster C19MC in embryonal tumours with multi-layered rosettes (ETMRs). In her past time, Iqra enjoys reading, exploring Toronto and travelling.

Elizabeth Richardson
Masters Graduate Student

Liz's current focus in the lab is on Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumours (ATRTs). Specifically, she's using in vitro techniques to characterize effects of a hopeful drug candidate on Group 2 ATRTs and identify synergistic pathways that can be targeted by multi-modal therapies. In her free time, Liz enjoys cooking, reading, and swing dancing.


Fupan Yao
PhD Graduate Student

Fupan completed a bachelor of computer science with a focus on computational biology and bioinformatics. Fupan focuses on deeper characterizations of Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumours (ATRTs) through the application of high resolution single cell RNA sequencing and multi-omics analysis. In his free time he plays too much video games and eats way too many snacks.

Previous Members

Jonathan Torchia

Patrick Sin-Chan

Tannu Suwal

Neilket Patel

Olivia Lopes

Neil Chang

Adil Abdullahi

Alice Ma

Valerie Yau

Ayda Alizadeh 

Shivani Kamdar

Gassam Al-Awad

Angela Li

David Panizze

Paul Su

Mohammed Ahmed

Natalia Pikor

Yaqi Hu

Amy Fang

Victoria Ngo

Angela Chan

Charles Chen

Sabrina Ge

Johnny Nguyen

Yaqi Hu

Brian Golbourn

Tara Spence

Tiffany Chan

Daniel Picard

David Shih

Kyle Lee

Dr. Adriana Fonseca, MD

Dr. Palma Solano Paez, MD

Dr. Joseph Norman, PhD

Dr. Alexandre Vasiljevic, MD/ PhD

Dr. Cathy Lee, PhD

Dr. Dennis Ku, MD

Dr. John You, MD PhD

Dr. Deena Gendoo, PhD

Dr. Nina Hoss, MD

Dr. E. Lee, MD

Dr. Li Mei Zhou, PhD

Dr. Yun Tao Lu, MD PhD

Dr. Mei Hua Li, PhD