Academic Rank:
Professor, UBC
Distinguished Scientist, Department Head, Molecular Oncology, BCCA
Short Bio:

The Aparicio lab studies the genomic and phenotypic behaviour of breast and other cancers. Integrating leading edge technologies with patient-derived xenograft models of cancer, this research is working to better understand how cancer clones evolve and to identify novel strategies for cancer treatment and predictors of response.

Dr. Aparicio’s research program encompasses the fields of cancer genomics, cancer evolution, single cell biology, mouse genetic models, high throughput screens, small molecule chemical probe development and translational breast cancer research. His work on the molecular taxonomy of breast cancer led to identification of new genes that could change the way breast cancer is diagnosed, and form the basis of next-generation treatments. This discovery was preceded by another breakthrough in decoding the genetic makeup of the most-deadly form of breast cancer, known as triple negative subtype (TNBC). Dr. Aparicio is also working to develop quantitative measures of clonal fitness in patients, including methods for single cell genome sequencing and PDX models of human cancer. He collaborates widely with other groups, with current projects including the genomic and biochemical analysis of lymphoma, ovarian cancer, and several rare pediatric cancers. He was a co-founder of Paradigm Therapeutics (now, Takeda Cambridge) and currently Canexia Health.


Faculty member, UBC Genome Science and Technology Graduate Program
Associate member, Head Single Cell Genomics, BC Cancer Genome Sciences Centre
Associate member, UBC CIHR/MSFHR Bioinformatics Program
Associate member, Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre


Professor, University of British Columbia – Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Canada Research Chair in Molecular Oncology
Department Head , BC Cancer, Department of Molecular Oncology
Nan & Lorraine Robertson Chair of Breast Cancer Research, UBC/BC Cancer
Affiliate Member, New York Genome Center
Associate Member, BC Cancer, Genome Sciences Center
Affiliated Investigator, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
Distinguished Scientist, BC Cancer, Department of Molecular Oncology
PhD, University of Cambridge


Academic background

  • Royal College of Pathologists, MRC Pathology. May 2004
  • PhD, University of Cambridge, UK. 1995
  • MA, University of Cambridge, UK (Comparative gene regulation). 1988
  • BM BCh, University of Oxford, UK (Clinical Medicine). 1988
  • BA, University of Cambridge, UK (Natural and Medical Sciences). 1985/12

Research Interest

  • Breast cancer genome sequencing
    Discovery of novel gene mutations
  • Breast cancer xenografts
    Pre-clinical models of breast tumour biology and drug response
  • Cancer epigenetics
    Investigation of non-sequence changes to tumour cell DNA
  • Characterisation of normal and cancerous mammary stem cells  Discovery of genes involved in stem cell proliferation and differentiation
  • Genetic heterogeneity within breast tumours and single cell genomics  Identification and characterisation of tumour cell subpopulations
  • Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells  Development of novel methods to help move iPS cells into the clinic
  • Mammographic density and columnar cell lesions of the breast  Investigation of the connection between common breast cell abnormalities and the higher risk of tumour development in dense breast tissue
    Molecular classification of breast cancer subtypes
  • Screening the human genome for genes involved in breast cancer  Discovery of novel gene-gene and gene-drug interactions

Current projects in my lab include:

Novel treatment strategies for DNA damage repair-deficient tumours

Mutation or loss of DNA damage repair genes, such as BRCA1/2 can lead to genomic instability, the onset of cancer, and can facilitate the development of resistance to DNA-damaging chemotherapy. Our lab is investigating novel drug interventions which may improve the outcome for patients with DNA repair defects.

Tumour heterogeneity and clonal dynamics of breast cancer

Cancer is a dynamic disease, and as a result a single tumour mass may comprise a diverse collection cancer clones with distinct phenotypes, mutations or sensitivity to treatment. Integrating deep and single cell genomic and transcriptomic sequencing with statistical modeling of clonal fitness, our lab is developing methods to study and predict the clonal dynamics of cancer in PDX and cell models, under natural and selective pressures such as drug intervention or CRISPR knockout.

Methods for studying cancers at single cell resolution

Single cell sequencing technologies allow the study of phenomena such as tumour heterogeneity, clonal dynamics, tissue microenvironments as well as the identification of novel and intermediary cell types, which may not be easily resolved with bulk sequencing strategies. Our lab has developed methods for the surveying of single cell genomics, and integrates them with methods to study the epigenome and transcriptome at single cell resolution, as well as with imaging techniques for spatial context