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Annie Moisan, PhD

Supervisor: Dr. Nabeel Bardeesy
Award: KRESCENT Fellowship
Institution: Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Centre, Harvard Medical School
Year: 2010-2013

Dr. Annie Moisan will complete her post-doctoral fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Nabeel Bardeesy at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Centre/Harvard Medical School, where she will study how disturbances in regenerative cells lead to the development of cancer. Many cancers appear to arise in damaged regenerative cells that continually reproduce themselves in an unregulated manner and lose their ability to convert into mature, non-dividing cells. The pediatric kidney cancer Wilms' tumor provides a good model to investigate how disturbances in cells lead to cancer development. Wilms' tumors arise from kidney cells that have a compromised ability to undergo normal differentiation and Dr. Moisan’s team recently identified mutations in a new gene, WTX, in 30% of Wilms' tumor cases. These findings predict that WTX is critical in controlling how kidney cells either differentiate or regenerate and suggest that mutations in WTX may increase the number of cells at risk of becoming cancer cells.

Dr. Moisan’s proposed research aims at defining exactly how WTX controls cells and how loss of cell regeneration control leads to the development of cancer. This work should point to new strategies for developing drugs to prevent and treat cancers that have WTX mutations and thereby increase the quality of life of Canadian patients. In addition, understanding the role of WTX in stem cells throughout the body could lead to valuable insights for regenerative medicine aimed at repairing damaged tissues.