LABORATORY Cancer Research in Genome Stability
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Kirk J. McManus, PhD (Principal Investigator)

Professor (March 2021 - present)


Associate Professor (March 2015 - March 2021)

Assistant Professor (June 2009 - March 2015)

Department of Biochemistry & Medical Genetics University of Manitoba

Senior Scientist (June 2009 - present)

CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute CancerCare Manitoba


Post-doctoral Fellowship - Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

PhD (Oncology) - Cross Cancer Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (2004)

MSc (Human Genetics) - University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada (1999)

BSc (Honors Genetics) - University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada (1995)

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Dr. Kirk McManus is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics at the University of Manitoba. He is also a Senior Scientist within the CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute housed within CancerCare Manitoba. He received a BSc (1995) and an MSc (1999) from the University of Manitoba and moved to Edmonton, Alberta to conduct his PhD studies (1999) in Oncology under the supervision of Dr. Michael Hendzel. There he studied the regulation and dynamics of post-translational histone modifications and their influence on chromosome segregation. His post-doctoral studies were performed with Dr. Phil Hieter at the Michael Smith Laboratories in Vancouver, BC, where he utilized cross-species approaches to identify genes that regulate chromosome stability and characterize their impact on cancer development. Dr. McManus joined the University of Manitoba in June, 2009, and his research interests focus on identifying and characterizing genes that regulate chromosome stability in a cancer context and exploiting these characteristics to identify novel therapeutic targets. He currently couples genetics, biochemistry and cellular biology along with innovative digital imaging microscopy to identify both genes and targets of interest.

Kailee Rutherford (PhD Student)



BSc (Honors; Genetics) - University of Manitoba

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Colorectal cancer is one of most common cancers diagnosed in Canada, but the genetic defects causing it still remain poorly understood. Chromosome instability (CIN: ongoing chromosome gains/losses) occurs in over 80% of colorectal cancers and drives cancer development and progression. Despite these prevalent oncogenic roles, causal genes (i.e. CIN genes) remain largely unknown. Genetic defects giving rise to CIN have been observed in pathways regulating cell cycle control, mitotic spindle assembly and DNA damage repair. My project seeks to expand our basic understanding of specific genes, that when mutated or abnormally expressed, give rise to CIN. Accordingly, my work will provide novel insight into the underlying mechanisms leading to colorectal cancer, which may ultimately lead to novel targeted therapies to improve patient outcomes not only in colorectal cancer, but in a diverse array of cancer types.

Nicole Neudorf (MSc Student)



BSc (Honors; Biochemistry) - University of Manitoba

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Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed and second most lethal cancer in Canada, accounting for almost 12% of all cancer related deaths. This is partly attributed to ~50% of all new diagnoses being at late stages (III or IV). Accordingly, there is an urgent need to better understand the origins and early events driving colorectal cancer development, so that they may be exploited by innovative treatment strategies in the future. I am investigating these early events by characterizing chromosome instability (CIN), or ongoing changes in chromosome numbers. CIN occurs in ~85% of colorectal cancers, is proposed to be a driver event in development and progression of cancer, and is associated with the acquisition of multi-drug resistance and poor patient outcomes; however, the abnormal genes and cellular pathways causing CIN remain largely unknown. The focus of my project is to characterize SKP2, a suspected CIN gene. Using biochemistry, genetics and microscopy techniques I will turn off SKP2 expression in cell models and determine the impact this has on CIN and the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer.

Ally Farrell (MSc Student)



BSc - University of Manitoba

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High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is the most common subtype of epithelial ovarian cancer and remains the most lethal gynecological malignancy. Unfortunately, >80% of patients will experience tumor recurrence and are often diagnosed with chemoresistant disease. One of the fundamental drivers of disease recurrence and drug resistance in many cancer types is chromosome instability (CIN; continual changes in chromosome complements). The McManus laboratory recently identified a number of new CIN genes (i.e., aberrant expression induces CIN) in HGSOC cell contexts. Although the role of CIN in HGSOC pathogenesis has yet to be fully elucidated, it is of great interest for its potential clinical utility in the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Accordingly, my project seeks to identify candidate drug targets that exploit genetic defects in CIN genes to ultimately improve the lives and outcomes of women living with HGSOC.

Rubi Campos GudiƱo (MSc Student)



BSc Bioengineering - Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexicali, Mexico

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Zelda Lichtensztejn (Lab Manager)



MSc (Human Genetics) - Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel (1994)

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Dr. Raghvendra Vishwakarma (Research Associate)



MD - Mumbai, India (2003)

MBBS - Mumbai, India (1999)

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Mirka Sliwowski (Research Laboratory Assistant)



Diploma (Chemical & Biosciences Technology) - Red River College, Winnipeg (2004)

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Tooba Razi (Research Laboratory Assistant)



BSc - University of Manitoba

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Lucile Jeusset (PhD Student)

Michaela Palmer (MSc Student)

Cindy Atayan (Co-op Student)

Gillian Boychuk (Undergraduate Summer Student)

Nicole Wilson (MSc Student)

Tooba Razi (Undergraduate Summer Student)

Claire Morden (MSc Student)

Manisha Bungsy (MSc Student)

Chloe Lepage (MSc Student)

Morgan Hiebert (Co-op Student)

Laura Thompson (PhD Student)

Yasamin Asbaghi (MSc Student)

Lexis Johannson (Undergraduate Summer Student)

Erin McAndrew (MSc Student)

Megan Neufeld (Co-op Student)

Allison Baergen (Summer Student, Research Assistant & BSc (Med) Student)

Tarik Leylek (Research Assistant & BSc (Med) Student)

Brent Guppy (PhD Student)

Signe Penner-Goeke (Undergraduate Summer Student & Research Assistant)

Amy Cisyk (MSc Student & Research Technician)

Babu Sajesh (Research Associate/Post-doctoral Fellow)

Aaron MacAulay (Undergraduate Summer Student/Project Student)

Rehan Khan (Post-doctoral Research Fellow)

Brittany Kessler (Undergraduate Summer Student)

Laryssa Sawchuk (Undergraduate Summer Student/Project Student)

Nermin Moujani (Undergraduate Summer Student/Project Student)

Jeff Schachter (Undergraduate Student)

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