Dr. Phil Hieter is a professor at the Michael Smith Laboratories, and also the Departments of Medical Genetics, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UBC. His research explores the changes in genome structure and sequence which underlie tumorigensis. Genes that maintain genome structure are evolutionarily conserved and are often somatically mutated in cancer. Thus, mutations that cause genome instability are considered important predisposing events that contribute to the initiation and/or progression of cancer.
His team’s general approach is to develop and apply genetic and biochemical methodologies in the model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (bakers yeast), to obtain an understanding of molecular components required for chromosome transmission, with the overarching goal of relating our work in yeast to human cancer. They have established an extensive genome instability gene catalog in yeast that provides a resource to identify cross-species, candidate human genes that are somatically mutated and could cause chromosome instability (CIN) in cancer.