Marc Therrien, Ph.D.

Awards & Honours

  • Canada Research Chair in Intracellular Signalling, 2004-
  • Scholar, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 1999-2004
  • Centennial Postdoctoral Fellow, Medical Research Council of Canada, 1996-1998
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, National Cancer Institute of Canada, 1993-1996
  • The Academy of Great Montrealers Award, Best doctoral thesis-Health Sciences sector, 1994


  • Postdoctoral training with Gerald M. Rubin, University of California, Berkeley, 1993-1998
  • Ph.D. in Biochemistry with Jacques Drouin, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, Université de Montréal, 1993

Research Support

  • Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research

After obtaining a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Université de Montréal, Marc Therrien sought to acquire a greater understanding of the intracellular signalling processes controlling cell proliferation and differentiation. For this, he chose to use Drosophila fruit flies as a model system. He considers this organism, which he still uses today, to be highly effective to address fundamental questions in biology, the answers to which can in several instances benefit to human health.

Thus, for his postdoctoral training he joined the laboratory of Gerry Rubin at UC Berkeley, a world-renowned fly geneticist. His work there focused on signalling mechanisms enabling cells to perceive and transmit extracellular signals that in turn trigger cell responses. More specifically, the team Marc Therrien belonged to identified several genes that function in concert with Ras, a notorious signaling protein that plays a prominent role in the control of cell proliferation and differentiation and which has potent oncogenic properties. Indeed, activating mutations in any of the three Ras genes are found in over 30% of all human cancers. Interestingly, the team also found that the Ras-dependent protein network is far more complex than initially anticipated.

In 1999, Marc Therrien returned to Quebec to set up his laboratory at l’Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal. In 2003, he joined IRIC as one of its founding principal investigators. His team currently investigates how signals are passed from one molecule to another within the Ras/MAP kinase (Ras/MAPK) pathway. His work revealed novel features regulating the activation mechanisms of some of the central players of the pathway as well as the events modulating their expression levels. In another vein, the team exploits Drosophila genetics to identify and characterize genes modulating the activity of leukemogenic oncogenes.

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