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Geneviève Deblois Honoured by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Published on May 9, 2022

Geneviève Deblois, Principal Investigator at IRIC and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Université de Montréal, is the recipient of the Early Career Investigator in Cancer Award 2022. This award, presented by the Institute of Cancer Research of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), recognizes excellence in research conducted in Canada. It is awarded to the top-ranked new investigators in the CIHR fall competition, Project Scheme.

In this competition, Geneviève Deblois, who leads the Metabolic and Epigenetic Alterations in Cancer research unit at IRIC, received a grant of $619,650 over five years for her project entitled “Investigating the metabolic determinants of triple-negative breast cancer progression through chromatin dependencies”.

Professor Deblois agreed to answer a few questions related to this prestigious recognition:

 

How did you come to study epigenetics?

Geneviève Deblois (G. D.): After studying the regulation of cell metabolism by certain transcription factors in breast cancer, I wanted to understand how the microenvironment and the metabolism of cancer cells in turn contribute to modulate the accessibility and use of specific regions of the genome through epigenetic modifications. Epigenetic modifications can contribute to activate or repress the expression of genes, without modifying their sequence. My research group is now trying to understand how this reciprocal regulation between metabolism and epigenetic modifications contributes to the progression of cancers.

 

What are the objectives of your CIHR-funded research project?

G. D.: This project aims to understand how changes in certain epigenetic landscapes resulting from the activity of the methyltransferase EZH2 reprogram the metabolism of breast cancer cells. The project will also aim to identify targets that allow us to block these epigenetic and metabolic modifications that contribute to tumor progression.

 

What does receiving the Early Career Investigator in Cancer Award 2022 mean to you? To your laboratory?

G.D.: This is an important peer recognition and it represents a much-appreciated source of encouragement at the start of a career. This award will undoubtedly motivate my team to continue to excel!