Annie Huang
MD, PhD, FRCP(C)
Principal Investigator
Associate Chair of Research, Department of Paediatrics, SickKids and University of Toronto

Dr Huang is a paediatric neuro-oncologist and scientist with 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 with Medical Biophysics and Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto.

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.

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.
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.

Oliva Palander
PhD
Post-doc Fellow

Dr. Palander is currently doing her post-doctoral research fellowship in Paediatriac Haematology/Oncology, Cell Biology program at Sickkids. Prior to this, she worked on primary cilia to determine how cell signaling pathways regulate diseases. She also was involved in an international research collaboration that connected a new gene mutation causing polydactyly in patients with cilia.She obtained her PhD in Biochemistry under the guidance of Dr. William Trimble at the University of Toronto, where she studied the role of formin proteins in cilia maintenance and ciliogenesis. During her MSc, she worked on retinoblastoma protein (pRB) and understanding its interaction with E2F1 in retinoblastoma. She is a biomedical scientist with a strong interest in advancing knowledge and care for rare childhood embryonal brain tumours (EBTs). Although relatively uncommon, rare EBTs comprise 40% of childhood EBTs and are frequently fatal. Current therapies are largely ineffective and unfortunately also have devastating effects on the small number of survivors. Until recently these remained neglected orphan diseases with little to no clinical or biological data. In her work at Dr. Huang’s lab, she focuses on understanding molecular underpinnings of rare EBTs that develop in infants and toddlers with a specific focus on Pineoblastoma (PB), for which the Huang lab has recently uncovered a spectrum of sub-types with different molecular, clinical and survival features. Understanding the signaling pathways in PB will lay the groundwork for the discovery of novel genes and molecular circuits that are important in PB biology and in discovery of new therapeutics.
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.

Laurie Liu
M.Sc.
PhD Graduate Student
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.

Yacine Choutri
PhD Graduate Student
Lydia Leung
Research Student

Lydia is currently completing her undergraduate degree at McMaster University. She is assisting in the management of the RBTC, including liaison with collaborators, regulating research ethics board (REB) protocols and material transfer agreements, and maintaining the RBTC clinical database. Aside from this, Lydia is currently working on understanding the impact of intensified multimodal therapy across ATRT molecular subgroups. In her free time, she enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her family.

David Bakhshinyan
PhD
Medical Student

Previous Members

Sara Khan

Gibran Edun

Elizabeth Richardson

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. Sivan Gershanov, PhD

Dr. Dean Popovski, PhD

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

Dr. Xiaolian Fan

Dr. Salma Al-Karmi