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Dr. Jeff Wrana
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Dr. Jeff Wrana

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Research Institute
Mount Sinai Hospital
Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Health Complex
600 University Avenue
Toronto Ontario M5G 1X5

Tel: 416-586-4800 ext.2791
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Dr. Jeff Wrana 

Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Senior Investigator Dr. Jeff Wrana is internationally recognized for his cancer research. While most current cancer investigations focus on specific disease pathways, Dr. Wrana believes cancer involves a complex network of pathways that work together to misregulate cells and cause disease. His research aims to expose the mechanisms involved in the development of these networks and to reveal new targets for treatments that would attack the entire disease network, not just individual hubs.

Dr. Wrana's research program involves the application of high-throughput, robotics-based technologies that perform thousands of tests at a time and enable studies of gene function on a genome-wide scale. With his special expertise and phenomenal success securing support from granting agencies, he has established a Robotics Facility at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. The expertise and advanced technology available in the facility extends the research capacity of scientists throughout the Lunenfeld and beyond.

In February 2009, Dr. Wrana unveiled a new technology tool that analyzes breast cancer tumours to determine a patient's best treatment options. The technology, called DyNeMo, analyzes networks of proteins in cancer cells, and can predict with more than 80 per cent accuracy a patient's chance of recovering from breast cancer. Wrana and his team hope that the technology will eventually provide individualized analysis to breast cancer patients and their oncologists so that they are better informed and empowered to select a treatment best suited to them.

Dr. Wrana has also made significant discoveries related to colorectal and other cancers. In particular, he is interested in metastasis, the spread of cancer from its initial site to other places throughout the body, and which is responsible for 90 percent of cancer deaths. Insights into this little-understood process have the potential to make a significant impact on survival rates for breast and other cancers.

In December 2012, Dr. Wrana and his team garnered media attention for their major discovery about the way cancer spreads. The team found that proteins produced in normal cells near the environment of a cancer tumour influence the cancer’s ability to spread to other tissues of the body. This alters the standard thought that cancer cells were responsible for cancer spreading, and this discovery has the potential to transform the way cancer is treated.




At a Glance

  • Studies the molecular basis of metastatic cancer and seeks to understand the processes by which tumour cells spread
  • Made significant discoveries related to colorectal and other cancers -- currently focused on breast cancer
  • Developed a new technology tool that analyzes breast cancer tumours to determine a patient's best treatment options
  • Holds the Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
  • A Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Research Scholar since 2002
  • Inducted into the Royal Society of Canada in 2006
  • Received a Premier's Summit Award in 2010


Major Research Activities

Dr. Wrana's lab is primarily interested in defining the signal transduction pathways for a superfamily of proteins known as TGF-beta. Dr. Wrana's lab has defined some of the key steps in this pathway and determined that Smad2 is mutated in some colorectal cancers. Recently, the lab identified SARA (for Smad Anchor for Receptor Activation). The biological function of SARA is currently being elucidated using a knockout mouse of SARA.


Recent Publications


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Ontario Health Study Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. mitacs honorary partner


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