Investigator, Lady Davis Institute
Assistant Professor, Department of Oncology, McGill University
Dr. Alexandre Orthwein is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Oncology at McGill University and a Principal Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute.
Dr. Orthwein obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at University of Montreal. There, he developed a strong interest in B-cell biology and malignancies by studying a critical mutagenic enzyme called Activation Induced Deaminase (AID). Subsequently, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Durocher at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto for his postdoctoral training and focused on the interplay between the cell cycle and the signalling/repair of DNA double-strand breaks. His postdoctoral work has been published in leading journals, including Nature and Science. In 2014, he was also the recipient of the Young Canadian Cell Biologist of the Year award from the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences and the American Society for Cell Biology.
Major Research Activities
Dr. Orthwein’s laboratory investigates the mechanisms by which B-cells diversify their genome to allow for a protective immunity. This process, called antibody diversification,rely on programmed DNA lesions, in particular DNA double-strand breaks. Problematically, these DNA breaks can result in chromosomal translocations that favour the development of B-cell malignancies, including lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma. The main focus of his research program is to understand how genome stability is maintained in B-cells during antibody diversification to develop an effective immune response against pathogens but prevent the formation of B-cell cancers. His research is at the interface of immunology and cancer biology.
Another major interest of Dr. Orthwein’s laboratory is to identify novel targets for the diagnosis and treatment of B-cell malignancies. These cancer subtypes are predominantly diagnosed in pediatric and young adults. Using cutting-edge technologies, including genome editing techniques, high-throughput sequencing and novel proteomic approaches, Dr. Orthwein’s ultimate goal is to define reliable biomarkers for the diagnosis of lymphoma and multiple myeloma and define potential drug targets for the treatment of patients affected by these diseases.