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Dr. Bharati Bapat

Lunenfeld- Tanenbaum
Research Institute
Mount Sinai Hospital
Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Health Complex
600 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1X5

Tel.: 416-586-4800

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Dr. Bharati Bapat


Dr. Bharati Bapat brought her genetics expertise to Mount Sinai Hospital and the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in 1991, and introduced molecular diagnostics to the team. Today, Mount Sinai Hospital is a leader in this field, thanks to Dr. Bapat's work.

In the research lab, Dr. Bapat focuses on uncovering the causes of colorectal, bladder and prostate cancer by taking an epigenetic approach. The field of epigenetics examines changes in gene function that do not disrupt the underlying DNA sequence, but are instead a reversible change. (Genetics, on the other hand, studies permanent mutations in genetic function.) DNA methylation is a naturally occurring process that can cause an impermanent change in a gene.  

Each tumor is expected to have its own unique pattern or 'signature' of DNA methylation. By studying changes in DNA methylation, Dr. Bapat aims to generate knowledge that will contribute to better and more accurate therapies for cancers. One of Dr. Bapat's new projects involves the use of an innovative profiling technique to screen the genomes of prostate cancer patients at various stages of progression. This process will reveal genetic markers to help pathologists, oncologists and urologists better understand a patient's prognosis, and ultimately determine optimal treatment on a case-by-case basis.   

Recently, Dr. Bapat's team conducted a large study of colon cancer patients from six international registries, in which patients had one of two distinct genetic types of tumours. Results suggest a complex interplay between genetic mutations and environmental factors. Her additional research on the interaction between genes and environmental influence (specifically, the effects of diet and alcohol) includes a recent study of 1,000 Canadian patients with colon cancer, in which changes to the ApoE pathway were investigated. 

Another aspect of Dr. Bapat's more recent work focuses on the development of non-invasive diagnostic tests for cancers. It has already been proven that DNA methylation tied to prostate cancer can be detected in a urine sample, which could not only replace the need for invasive tumour biopsies, but also open the door to a world of potential in preventative medicine. Dr. Bapat's lab is already testing urine and blood samples to detect epigenetic signatures that will avoid (or minimize) some surgical procedures in the future. The development of more non-invasive tests like this one will transform the way patients receive care and the way physicians make diagnoses.

At a Glance

Dr. Bapat's lab focuses on the genetic causes of colorectal, prostate and bladder cancer.

Her research takes an "epigenetic" approach by examining changes in gene function that do not disrupt the underlying DNA sequence.

Another aspect of Dr. Bapat's more recent work focuses on the development of non-invasive diagnostic tests for cancers.  

Major Research Activities

Dr. Bapat's lab is working towards the identification and functional analysis of molecular markers of cancer predisposition and developments, and their association with clinical manifestiations of the disease.