Academic Rank:
Professor, UBC
Director, Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE)
Vancouver Prostate Centre
Affiliation(s):
BCCA/BCCRC
Short Bio:

Dr. David Huntsman is the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Professor of Gynaecologic Oncology, holds the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Molecular and Genomic Pathology, and is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynaecology at The University of British Columbia. He is a Staff Pathologist at the BC Cancer Agency and a Consulting Pathologist at the Vancouver General Hospital.

Dr. Huntsman attended medical school at Memorial University of Newfoundland from 1984-88 and after completing a rotating internship, practiced family medicine in Labrador for two years. Following his experience in family medicine, he entered and completed a pathology residency and trained in clinical molecular genetics at UBC and subsequently studied cancer genetics at Cambridge University, UK.

Dr. Huntsman is a co-founder and Director of BC’s Ovarian Cancer Research (OVCARE) Program, where he leads a multidisciplinary team of over 50 scientists, staff and trainees in the study of ovarian and other gynaecological cancers. He is also co-Director of the Genetic Pathology Evaluation Centre (GPEC) at the Jack Bell Research Centre, VGH and former Medical Director of the Centre for Translational and Applied Genomics (CTAG) at the BCCA.

Dr. Huntsman’s research has led to the development of predictive and prognostic tissue-based cancer biomarkers for ovarian cancer and a wide variety of other tumour types. His team created a blueprint for histotype specific ovarian cancer control and have been leaders in the application of novel genomics technologies to ovarian cancer. Recently, his team applied next generation sequencing technologies to ovarian cancers and discovered key mutations in granulosa cell tumours, clear cell and endometrioid carcinomas, sertoli-leydig cell tumours of the ovary and small cell carcinomas of the ovary. His team is working to determine the biologic and clinical relevance of these discoveries with a view to developing new treatment, diagnostic and prevention opportunities. Dr. Huntsman has published >300 publications, many in high impact journals such as Nature, N Engl J Med, Cell, JAMA, and Nat Genetics. He has secured over $20M of research funding as Principal Investigator plus an additional $73M as a co-Investigator. His research has attracted collaborative industry projects from Sanofi, Novartis, Astra-Zeneca, and Pfizer.

As collaboration is critical in this field, Dr. Huntsman happily leads and engages in a wide number of multidisciplinary research groups. Most recently, he has been working with Professor Pieter Cullis on the creation of a broad-based personalized medicine initiative for British Columbia. He has engaged national and international researchers through his creation of the Terry Fox Research Institute-Canadian Ovarian Experimental Unified Resource (TFRI-COEUR) and Ovarian Tumor Tissue Analysis (OTTA) tissue resources, containing >12,000 cases. He is part of the scientific team that directs the international Helene Harris Memorial Trust Ovarian Cancer Think Tank and have participated actively in the European Translational Ovarian Cancer (EUTROC) Consortium.

Dr. Huntsman is the recipient of numerous awards including the prestigious William E. Rawls Prize for contributions to advances in cancer control in Canada (2014), the Gerald Award for Translational Research and Pathology from the Memorial Sloan Ketter Cancer Center (2016), the Karen Campbell National Award for Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research (Feb 2012), the Killam Research Prize and Overall Excellence Senior Faculty Award from the UBC Faculty of Medicine (2012), and the inaugural Virginia Greene leadership award for ovarian cancer research and advocacy (Sept 2011).

Publications (Link to Pubmed)

Visit the OvCare Website

BC Cancer Foundation Blog

Academic background

  • FRCPC. 1995
  • MD – Memorial University Newfoundland, Canada. 1988
Primary Research Area
Genetics genomics proteomics and related approaches

Research Interest

  • David Huntsman’s lab studies genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer. This research focuses on understanding the molecular differences between the different ovarian cancer subtypes, which will hopefully lead to more specific treatments. Recently, Dr. Huntsman headed the research group that discovered a new mutation in a gene called FOXL2, which appears to be responsible for the development of granulosa cell tumours of the ovary.
  • Dr. Huntsman has active research programs in the development of predictive and prognostic tissue based cancer biomarkers of hereditary gastric cancer and a wide variety of other tumor types. His team created a blueprint for subtype specific ovarian cancer control and have been leaders in the application of novel genomics technologies to ovarian cancer. Dr. Huntsman happily leads and engages in a wide number of multidisciplinary research groups. Most recently he has been working with Professor Pieter Cullis on the creation of broad based personalized medicine initiative for British Columbia.