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Dr. Mick Bhatia - Program Director


“I’m moved by the notion that in cancer, your own cells are turning on you. I want to understand how that starts and how we can stop it.”

Dr. Mick Bhatia is a Senior Scientist of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University and Molecular Pathology. He is the Principal investigator and Director of the Experimental Therapeutics in Human Leukemias Program, Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Stem Cell and Cancer Biology, and Canada Research Chair in Human Stem Cell Biology. 


Dr. Bhatia began his scientific and clinical journey as a translational clinical research Fellow with the National Cancer Institute of Canada with studies at the Sick Children’s Hospital in the Department of Genetics, Toronto, Canada. His first appointment was at the University of Western Ontario and London Health Sciences in 1998, where he developed a new program and then became the director of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Robarts Research Institute. This role included faculty recruitment, private and industrial collaborations, and represented the first Canadian lab to work with human pluripotent stem cells. After engaging in recruitment efforts to centres in the United States, Dr. Bhatia returned his focus to Canada, and became the inaugural director of McMaster’s first Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in 2006.           


As a senior scientist, he developed a broad programmatic approach to address his interests in the molecular processes that govern somatic and pluripotent human stem cell fate decisions from the survival, growth and differentiation of these rare cells. This research was expanded to investigate this topic from numerous angles using a variety of human specific model systems. This includes induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patient skin and blood donated samples, use of cord blood stem cells, and engagement with academics and the private sector developing new single cell imaging and molecular technologies involving high throughput, and automated processing for compound screening in chemical genomics approaches. Output from this work continues to translate directly to patients, and he has led and been part of several Phase I clinical trials ranging from testing new anti-leukemic compounds to stem cell expansion to improving stem cell transplants via adjuvant drugs identified and discovered by his group. Dr. Bhatia also continues to serve as an advisory to provincial and federal ministries in both biomedical research and innovation technologies. In addition, he consults with pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies, and was the founder of two biotechnology companies, Regenerative Inducing Therapeutics Inc and Actium Inc, and is currently developing the new enterprise to serve as a receptor for technologies from his program. 

Today, Dr. Bhatia’s program emphasizes disease intervention, biomarkers, and translation to patients. With established methods, tools, collaborative network and expertise in place, the impact of his work is solely measured by improving human health and developing experimental therapeutics for patients whose options are limited by current standard care and therapies.

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