John Dick is leading research into the role of stem cells in human haematopoiesis — formation of cellular blood components — and their role in blood cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia. Notably, he developed a method for transplanting blood cells into immune-deficient mice, leading to the creation of human stem cell assays and leukaemia models.
In the mid-1990s, John was the first to identify cancer stem cells — rare cancer cells that can lie dormant but possess stem cell-like properties of self-renewal, while still producing the bulk of tumour cells. His cancer stem cell model has important implications for cancer treatment as such cells survive conventional chemotherapy — which targets faster-growing cells — and regenerate tumours.
John has received a number of awards, including the Michael Smith Prize from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (1997), the Dameshek (2005) and Thomas (2009 prizes from the American Society of Hematology, and the Clowes Prize (2008) from the American Association for Cancer Research. In 2004, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Senior Scientist, McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University Health Network
Director of the Cancer Stem Cell Program, Ontario Institute of Cancer Research
Senior Scientist and Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network
Professor, Dept of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto
Interests and expertise
Acute myeloid leukemia,
Cancer stem cells,
Hematopoietic stem cells,
human xenograft cancer models,
leukaemia stem cells,