New graduate student!

Welcome to our new PhD student, Ghadir Makki! Ghadir’s previous M.Sc. and B.Sc. training was from Lebanese University in Beirut. She will be working on cancer hypermutation as a way to genetically engineer yeasts with interesting properties.

First preprint is up at bioRxiv!

The first preprint from our group is now online at bioRxiv:

In the preprint, we present evidence that many species have intrinsic base substitution patterns that are quite similar to one another, and to mutational signature 5 in human cancers. We also show that a similar pattern is produced when single-stranded DNA in yeast is damaged, and that the damage depends on sugar metabolism. These results suggest that energy metabolism is directly linked to the continuous generation of genetic diversity in organisms. In other words, the processes that generate energy to keep cells alive will necessarily also produce mutations, which are the starting material for evolution by natural selection.


Great to take everyone out for lunch at Das Lokal on Dalhouse Street. And welcome to our URS (Undergraduate Research Scholarship) student Emma McGurk, who is working with Bledar on the hypermutation/bioethanol project funded by the recent New Frontiers grant!


New Frontiers Research Fund - Exploration Grant

Well, it’s official: the paperwork came through for the NFRFE grant we applied for back in February! We will try to leverage cancer hypermutation for genetic engineering purposes. Exciting times!

TMM rotation time again

Welcome to our TMM rotation student Jasmine Bhatti! Jasmine is working on mutational signatures in bacteria.

Holiday Dinner 2018

We all went for a nice holiday pizza dinner at Fiazza in Byward Market two evenings ago. We got to celebrate Bledar and Reena’s very successful committee meetings. It was also fun to catch up with Kassidy and Salma. We had a very good campaign in 2018, and we’re looking forward to more success in 2019!


New Postdoc!

Warmest welcome to our newest lab member, Dr. Suzana Gelova! Suzana will be the point person for our endogenous metabolism project. Welcome aboard!

Science Meets Parliament 2018

I feel honoured and privileged to have participated in the inaugural Science Meets Parliament event these past two days. 29 scientists in a broad range of fields around the country came to Parliament Hill to get to know MPs and Senators. Thank you to all the parliamentarians for their support of science and for being such gracious hosts!

After meeting the parliamentarians, I’ve certainly got a much better understanding of their jobs and how much hard work they put in, day in and day out, to serve the public. Their schedules are jam packed with meetings, committee work, votes, phone calls, media availability, etc etc. I’m very impressed with MPs’ and Senators’ mental agility, to switch gears between different topics from one thing to the next every half hour, every day on the job!

I’m hopeful this will kickstart ongoing dialogs between scientists and policymakers. Thank you to the organizers for putting together such a successful event and to my fellow scientists for their enthusiastic participation. You can find all tweets related to this fantastic event by searching the hashtag #SciParl2018!

Congratulations to Salma

Our first Honours BSc student, Salma Alasmar, was awarded best honours project in the Biopharmaceutical Science undergraduate program. Way to go Salma, and all the best with your graduate studies in the Chemistry Department!

Science March 2018

I'm the proud supervisor of three diehards who showed up for Science March Ottawa 2018! Well done Kassidy, Bledar & Reena. 🙂


Congratulations to Nathan

Nathan Liang, our TMM student, was awarded an NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Award (USRA). Well done and congratulations to Nathan!