Our Team

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

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 projects at both research sites, assists with grant applications and handles lab finances. She is also responsible for day-to-day management and technical support of fellows and students 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.

Javad Nadaf, PhD.
Bio-Computer Scientist
Javad's research has focused on the bioinformatics and statistical analyses of disease-related (Epi)genomic data. He is interested in discovering cancer-predisposing germline variations and deciphering the interplay between the genome, epigenome and transcriptome in formation and progression of cancer. His current projects have mainly focused on deciphering the role of mutations in miRNA processing genes in cancer development.
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.

Anne-Laure Chong
MSC Candidate

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.

Leila Feng
Research Assistant

Leila worked as a volunteer with our group for several months while completing her undergraduate studies at McGill before officially joining our team as a RA in the fall of 2019. She works in close collaboration with our clinical research coordinator Zoulikha on recruiting participants, acquiring patient samples and maintaining participant records for our genetic research studies.

Anne-Sophie Chong
MSc candidate

Anne-Sophie first joined our team as an undergraduate student while completing her BSc at McGill. She worked as a summer student for 3 consecutive years and also completed a research course with our team and with our collaborator Barbara Rivera. She is now studying DICER1 mutation profiles and mechanisms of action as part of her graduate thesis.

Photo Gallery

 Former lab members

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 Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

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 a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Broad Institute, Boston, US

Ismael Bah, Genetics Resident (2015-2016)

Now a Hematopathology Fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center

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