New Students

Things have been very busy, so this update is a bit tardy.  Better late than never, though.  Our group has welcomed three new undergraduates this term:

Kassidy Doherty is a Biopharmaceutical Science student who is helping with characterization of mutants.

Salma Alasmar is also a Biopharmaceutical Science student who is currently volunteering in the lab, and is on track to carry out an Honours Project starting in the fall.

Jenny Cho is a Translational and Molecular Medicine (TMM) student who is doing a month-long rotation in the lab to carry out some pilot studies on optimal conditions for a new series of experiments.

All have been doing fine work in the lab and are contributing significantly to progress in the group.

Welcome to our UROP students!

Congratulations to Aurgho Datta and Jamie Zhen, our first two UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program) students!  Aurgho and Jamie will help us elucidate the mutagenesis attributable to metabolic processes.  Looking forward to getting started!

Doing Some Science

After submitting three grants within the past month, it's time to do some actual science!  It'll certainly be nice to mix in some bench work to go with more writing and computational stuff.

Also, a big welcome to Reda Silarbi, the first trainee in the group!  Reda is an enthusiastic third yeast student in Biomedical Science who will be learning yeast microbiology, yeast genetics, DNA molecular biology, etc.  In other words, all the fun stuff that happens at the bench.

One other note:  A paper from my postdoctoral lab just came out, which I contributed to in a minor fashion, about endogenous and exogenous sources of mutagenesis in human fibroblasts:

Peer Review Week

This past week was "Peer Review Week", when the institution of peer review has been much discussed.  As I'm in the midst of preparing three grant applications, peer review is very much on my mind.  Peer review has caused some researchers much grief and angst (e.g., here), but in my (albeit limited) experience, it isn't as bad as all that.

But one important question that I think even the worst detractors of peer review would ask is, "How do we improve peer review?"

I propose a sketch idea as follows:

First, allow authors to rate their peer reviewers on fairness, expertise in the research topic, thoughtfulness of comments, and so on.  Let authors identify whose peer review comments were helpful and whose were not.  Journals then compile data on the quality of peer reviewers and share these data with funding agencies.  Funding agencies should then select the best possible peer reviewers to serve on study sections or review panels.  Certainly, biased/uninformed/sloppy peer reviewers should be kept far, far away from making decisions on whose grants should be funded.  Journals can also reward consistently good reviewers by inviting them to serve on editorial boards, raising good reviewers' profiles in their research communities.

This system would incentivize everyone to contribute to peer review and to do their best job at it.  If we set the right incentives to reward fair, knowledgeable, thoughtful, helpful peer reviews, then the best science will be funded and published in a more transparent way.  And the entire ecosystem of science will benefit tremendously.



I'm settling down here at uOttawa, the lab renovation is getting finished, equipment will be ordered soon, and it's time to staff the research group!

I'm looking to bring on board motivated master's students and undergraduates to work on figuring out what kinds of mutations are made by carcinogens.  Prior lab experience would be nice.  But what's more important is the willingness to learn new things and take on new challenges, as this is how a student grows as a scientist and as an individual.

In addition to Canadian students, foreign students who have studied the French language are especially encouraged to apply.  Exceptional postdoctoral fellow candidates will also be considered.

Please send queries to me via email (kin.chan{at} for consideration.