Our Team

Our Team

Dr. William Foulkes, MBBS,Ph.D, FRCPC

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Dr. William Foulkes is a James McGill Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Oncology and Human Genetics at McGill University. He is a researcher-clinician who has practiced clinical cancer genetics at McGill-affiliated hospitals since 1996 and who heads cancer genetics research laboratories at two McGill-affiliated, hospital-based research institutes, the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) and in 2016 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He served as a Komen Scholar between 2010 and 2018.

He is best known for his work on the clinico-pathological features of hereditary breast cancer and for his discovery and characterization of cancer predisposing founder mutations in Montreal populations, including a germline pathogenic missense variant in MSH2 in the Ashkenazim and disease-causing variants in PALB2 and RAD51D in French Canadians. In collaboration with Jacek Majewski, he identified biallelic variants in SMARCA4 as the sole cause of small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type. He collaborates extensively with medical professionals and researchers around the world to better understand the genetics of various cancers. For the past 10 years, with nearly fifty publications his team extensively defined the phenotypes linked to the DICER1 pleiotropic tumor predisposition syndrome and is now exploring the functional impact of inherited mutations in DICER1. Another recent research focus involves genome-wide characterization of patients with multiples primary tumors to identify the genetic predisposing factors at work in these individuals.



Nancy Hamel
Lab Manager

A McGill graduate in molecular genetics, Nancy joined the lab as a research technician based at the RIMUHC in 1997. Now a research associate, she manages activities at both research sites, handles lab finances, assists with grant applications, and oversees graduate research projects and various other research-related activities such as ethics and biobank management. She also still occasionally dons a lab coat to perform the odd experiment at the RIMUHC site.

Razia Chanda
Research Coordinator
Razia was the clinical administrative assistant for the Medical Genetics Group at the JGH for over 10 years before joining the lab in 2016 as the research coordinator.
Nelly Sabbaghian
Research Technician
Nelly has been a research technician with the lab since 2009. She has a wide range of skills in molecular biology and tissue culture techniques. She is based at the LDI site and provides day-to-day management and technical support for fellows and students at that site.
Zoulikha Rezoug
Genetic Counselor, Clinical Research Coordinator

Zoulikha is a former Quality Control auditor who joined the group in 2017. She manages projects on diagnosis of breast cancer with liquid biopsy, prostate cancer in carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations and on the creation of a cancer predisposition genetics biobank. She currently coordinates an important pilot study to offer systematic genetic screening to all women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at our hospitals.

José Camacho Valenzuela
PhD candidate

José earned a BSc in Biotechnology Engineering in Mexico and joined our research team as a doctoral trainee in the winter of 2020 after obtaining his master’s degree in Genomic Medicine in Manchester, England. His research project focuses on using mutational signatures to classify the pathogenic potential of genetic variants in breast cancer patients with the aim to improve their clinical management.

HyeRim Han
PhD Candidate

Hye Rim is a former research assistant from our group who left in 2019 to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Barcelona in Spain under the supervision of our collaborator Barbara Rivera. She has returned to our lab of a 12-month international stage towards completing her PhD in Spain. Her work focuses on deciphering the mechanisms for susceptibility and tumorigenesis in pediatric brain tumors.

Dylan Pelletier
MSc candidate

Dylan joined our team as an undergraduate while doing his BSc at McGill. He completed multiple research projects with our team and other groups before deciding to pursue medical studies. He is currently enrolled in the Medicine program at University of Montreal while completing a research graduate degree with us with the goal to become a clinician-scientist. He works on elucidating the molecular mechanisms through which inherited mutations in the gene DICER1 lead to DICER1 syndrome.

Fiona Chan Pak Choon
MSc candidate

Fiona came to us with a BSc in Agriculture and Environmental Sciences from McGill University with a specialization in microbiology and molecular biotechnology, and a strong interest in pursuing human genetics research. Her graduate research project aims to identify the genetic lesions involved in the development of multiple primary tumors in several severely affected individuals and their relatives.

Anne-Laure Chong
Research Assistant

Anne-Laure first joined our team as an undergraduate student while completing her BSc at McGill. She completed a research course with our lab and also worked as a summer student. She is now performing functional studies on DICER1 mutations as part of her graduate thesis.

Céline Domecq
Research Assistant

Céline holds graduate degrees in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biology and software engineering from France and from Université de Montréal. With over 10 years of experience working in academic research, she is skilled in multiple molecular biology techniques and is also responsible for day-to-day management and technical support of lab activities, fellows and students at the RIMUHC site. She also manages routine activities of our SCCOHT Registry Biobank.

Victoria Carile
Clinical Research Coordinator

Victoria is a Molecular Biology graduate from Concordia University with research experience from undergraduate projects across multiple specialties. As part of our research team, she currently leads the RIMUHC arm of the CHARM project (cfDNA in Hereditary And High-Risk Malignancies), a Canada-wide study looking at the feasibility of using liquid (blood) biopsies for early cancer diagnosis. She also assists with participant contact and data management for other clinical research studies in our lab.

Melissa Tachdjian
Clinical Research Coordinator

Melissa recently joined our team to manage our new RIMUHC-based SCCOHT Registry. She holds a BA in Psychology from McGill University and plans to pursue graduate studies in the future. Her specific tasks include optimizing a participant friendly online questionnaire to facilitate study recruitment worldwide, overseeing participant recruitment and coordinating biological sample acquisition into the Registry Biobank with our Research Assistant Céline.

Sophie Albert
Clinical Research Coordinator

Sophie graduated from Concordia University with a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology who aspires to become a Genetic Counsellor. As part of our team, she works in close collaboration with our lead Research Genetic Counsellor to recruit research study participants, acquire patient samples and maintain participant records for our genetic research studies.

Photo Gallery

 Former lab members

Anne-Sophie Chong, MSc candidate (2019-2021)

Now a PhD student at University of Barcelona, Spain

Kristen Mohler, Clinical Research Coordinator (2020-2021)

Now a Genetic Counselling MSc student at University of Montreal

Javad Nadaf, Bioinformatician (2017-2020)

Now Bioinformatics Manager at McGill University, Montreal

Leila Feng, Research Apprentice (2018-2020)

Now Graduate Student in Genetic Counselling at McGill University, Montreal

Maria Apellaniz, Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2019)

Now Biomedical Researcher at the Biomedical Research Center of Navarre (Navarrobiomed), Pamplona, Spain

Supriya Behl, MSc graduate (2017-2019)

Now Clinical Research Coordinator at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA

HyeRim Han, Research Assistant (2017-2019)

Now a graduate student at University of Barcelona, Spain

Dominique Geoffrion, MSc candidate (2017-2018)

Now a MD-PhD student at McGill University

Leanne de Kock, PhD Graduate (2013-2018)

Now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, ON, Canada

Mona Wu, PhD Graduate (2013-2018)

Now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California, LA, USA

Marcos Clavier,  Data Manager (2016-2018)

Now a Digital Marketing Specialist at MindGeek

Cameron Levins, MSc Graduate (2016-2018)

Now a medical student at McGill University, Montreal.

Barbara Rivera, Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2018)

Now Junior Leader Faculty at the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL), Barcelona, Spain & Adjunct Professor at McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Ester Castellsagué, Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-2016)

Now Medical Science Manager at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Barcelona, Spain

Talia Boshari, Research Coordinator (2014-2016)

Now a Public Health Policy Officer at Southwark Council, London, UK

Leora Witkowski, PhD Graduate (2011-2016)

Now Clinical Specialist in Medical Biology, Laboratory in Molecular Pathology, MUHC, Montreal

Catherine Goudie, Genetics Resident (2015-2016)

Now a Clinician in the Hematology Pediatric dept at MUHC and a Junior Scientist at the RIMUHC, Canada.

Jian Carrot-Zhang PhD Graduate (2010-2016)

Now Assistant Professor at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, MA, USA

Ismael Bah, Genetics Resident (2015-2016)

Now Staff Pathologist at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire du Québec, Laval University, Hôtel Dieu de Québec, Canada

Heidi Rothenmund, Research Genetic Counselor (2011-2015)

Now working for the Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg, Canada

Andrew Shuen, Genetics Resident (2009-2014)

Now a PhD student at Sickkids & University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Nassim Taherian, Research Genetic Counselor (2009-2014)

Now a Clinical Oncology Specialist at Guardant Health, San Francisco, California

Evan Weber, Research Assistant (2013-2014)

Now working as a Genetic Counselor at the MUHC in Montreal, Canada

Rachel Silva-Smith, Research Assistant (2012-2013)

Now working as a Genetic Counselor at U Miami, US

Luca Cavallone, Research Associate (2011-2013)

Now a Research Associate at McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Sabrina Notte, Administrative Assistant (2005-2013)

Now at home with her two children.

Archana Srivastava, Research Technician (2008-2013)

Now in the Department of Pathology at the LDI in Montreal, Canada

Lili Li, PhD Graduate (2007-2013)

Now a Postdoctoral Fellow at Houston Methodist Research Institute, Weil Cornell Medicine, Houston, US

Amin Bahubeshi, MSc Graduate (2009-2011)

Now Resident Physician in Dermatology at University of Ottawa

François Plourde, Research Genetic Counselor (2009-2011)

Now working as a Genetic Counselor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada

Virginia Manning, Administrative Assistant (2009-2011)

Now a Senior Medical Editor with Roche Pharmaceuticals in London, UK

Emilie Lalonde, MSc Graduate (2009-2011)

Now Assistant Technical Director at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Deidra Osher, Research Assistant (2008-2011)

Now a Family Doctor in Ville St-Laurent, Quebec, Canada

Thomas Rio Frio, Postdoctoral Fellow (2008-2010)

Now Biologist in the Department of Medical Genetics at Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève, Switzerland

Martin Couillard, Postdoctoral Fellow (2008-2010)

Now an Advisor in Research and Knowledge transfer at HEC Montreal, Canada

David Novak, MSc Graduate (2007-2009)

Now Managing Director, Equity Research Analyst at Raymond James, Toronto, Canada

Ahmet Yilmaz, Postdoctoral Fellow (2006-2008)

Now in the Pathology Department at Ohio State University, US

Tayma Khalil, MSc Graduate (2005-2007)

Now Senior Director, Strategy, Expedia Group, Geneva

Ioli Makriyianni, MSc Graduate (2003-2005)

Now Senior Associate, Optimus Management Consultants, Toronto