John E Dick

John E Dick, PhD

  • SCID mouse model development
    Dr. Dick's research program aims to understand how stem cells can be manipulated. He is known around the world for his development of an in vivo repopulation assay (i.e., in vivo stem cell assay) using the NOD/SCID mouse. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are found in the bone marrow and are pluripotent: they give rise to all the cellular elements of the blood. Until the development of this model, studies of the human hematopoietic system and diseases of the blood were limited because there was no method to study the development of the human blood system. This model has transformed the study of both normal and leukemic human blood systems.

    The assay involves reconstituting immune deficient SCID mice with either normal human bone marrow or cord blood, or with cells from patients with genetic deficiencies or leukemia. The mouse, being immune deficient, cannot reject the human cells, and thus the human cells readily proliferate and differentiate, generating human hematopoietic cells of erythroid, lymphoid and myeloid lineage in the mouse.
  • Inside the black box of cancer development
    Although it is now important worldwide as a tool for blood research, the SCID mouse model was initially developed to understand and define both normal and leukemic stem cells. In acute myeloid leukemia, only leukemic stem cells can initiate the disease and we have little understanding of which normal cells become transformed in the initiation of leukemia. That is why it is important to characterize the developmental programs of both cell types. Without an understanding of how they are different, the mechanism by which the leukemic process alters the development of the normal blood system will never be understood. Effective anti-leukemia therapy must target the leukemic stem cell to completely eradicate the disease.

    Using the mouse model, it is possible to identify and characterize the leukemic stem cell and determine where it comes from. Until now, this process has always been a mystery. With this model, we will now be able to see inside that black box, and gain a more complete understanding regarding how the molecular pathways differ in normal and leukemic blood systems. Then we will be able to devise therapies to disrupt the molecular process that leads to leukemia and hopefully prevent it from occurring.

Related Links

Cancer Cell. 2016 Jun 13;29(6):905-21
Nucera S, Giustacchini A, Boccalatte F, Calabria A, Fanciullo C, Plati T, Ranghetti A, Garcia-Manteiga J, Cittaro D, Benedicenti F, Lechman ER, Dick JE, Ponzoni M, Ciceri F, Montini E, Gentner B, Naldini L
Cancer Cell. 2016 Apr 11;29(4):602-606
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,...
Cancer Cell. 2016 Feb 8;29(2):186-200
Iacobucci I, Li Y, Roberts KG, Dobson SM, Kim JC, Payne-Turner D, Harvey RC, Valentine M, McCastlain K, Easton J, Yergeau D, Janke LJ, Shao Y, Chen IM, Rusch M, Zandi S, Kornblau SM, Konopleva M, Jabbour E, Paietta EM, Rowe JM, Pui CH, Gastier-Foster J...
Cancer Res. 2016 Feb 1;
Chen WC, Yuan JS, Xing Y, Mitchell A, Mbong N, Popescu AC, McLeod J, Gerhard G, Kennedy JA, Bogdanoski G, Lauriault S, Perdu S, Merkulova Y, Minden MD, Hogge DE, Guidos C, Dick JE, Wang JC
Cancer Cell. 2016 Feb 8;29(2):214-28
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,...
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 Dec 11;
Vedi A, Santoro A, Dunant CF, Dick JE, Laurenti E
Cancer Cell. 2015 Nov 25;
Gallo M, Coutinho FJ, Vanner RJ, Gayden T, Mack SC, Murison A, Remke M, Li R, Takayama N, Desai K, Lee L, Lan X, Park NI, Barsyte-Lovejoy D, Smil D, Sturm D, Kushida MM, Head R, Cusimano MD, Bernstein M, Clarke ID, Dick JE, Pfister SM, Rich JN,...
Science. 2015 Nov 5;
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
Cancer Cell. 2015 Aug 26;
Churchman ML, Low J, Qu C, Paietta EM, Kasper LH, Chang Y, Payne-Turner D, Althoff MJ, Song G, Chen SC, Ma J, Rusch M, McGoldrick D, Edmonson M, Gupta P, Wang YD, Caufield W, Freeman B, Li L, Panetta JC, Baker S, Yang YL, Roberts KG, McCastlain K,...
Mol Cancer Ther. 2015 May 1;
Pereira DS, Guevara CI, Jin L, Mbong N, Verlinsky A, Hsu SJ, Avina H, Karki S, Abad JD, Yang P, Moon SJ, Malik F, Choi MY, An Z, Morrison K, Challita-Eid PM, Donate F, Joseph IB, Kipps TJ, Dick JE, Stover DR

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Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto
Director, Program in Cancer Stem Cells, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR)
Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology