2020 INDUCTEE Marco Marra, PhD Cells, Genetics & Genomics, Cells, Genetics & Genomics

Born:

June 30, 1966

(Berwyn, Alberta)

Education:

PhD, Simon Fraser University (1994)

Awards & Honours:

2019: Don Rix Award for Lifetime Achievement, LifeSciences BC

2017: Outstanding Achievements in Cancer Research Award, Canadian Cancer Research Alliance

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Picture of Marco Marra

Mapped the human genome

Portrait of Marco Marra

An Innovative Leader at the Boundaries of Scientific Research

One of the largest collaborative scientific projects in history was the international Human Genome Project (HGP). Among the project’s participants was the distinguished Canadian scientist Dr. Marco Marra, now Head of the Department of Medical Genetics at The University of British Columbia and Director of Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Science Centre (GSC) at BC Cancer. In their push towards personalized medicine informed by expanding resources of whole genome analyses, Dr. Marra and his colleagues are fully realizing the staggering promise of vastly expanded genomic information first achieved by the HGP. The necessity of routinely decoding cancer for both research and clinical care, and thus discovering individualized treatments and even cures, is being furthered by Dr. Marra and the GSC in the global fight against cancer.

Key Facts

Listed as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds by Thomas Reuters and Clarivate Analytic from 2014 to 2018

Is one of the world’s most cited scientists in the field of molecular biology & genetics

Authored more than 400 scientific publications and translated his research for public outreach

Co-founded the first genome centre within a cancer hospital

Uncovered new cancer mutations and therapeutic targets

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

Dr. Marra is still very active in his career and will continue to extend the reach of the genome sciences in studying, managing and eradicating disease. As two in five people will develop cancer in their lifetime, the work of the Personalized Oncogenomics (POG) project offers hope to millions that treatments of advanced cancers will be found. In addition, Dr. Marra himself has mentored many scientists and graduate students who are now providing the expertise and insight needed to continue and fulfill the promise of the genomic revolution through technological innovation, enhanced informatics and creative clinical applications.

Picture of Marco Marra

2021

  • Marco Marra inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    Virtual Ceremony (originally scheduled to be in Vancouver BC)

  • Image courtesy of the University of British Columbia 325 x 230

    The Personalized Oncogenomics (POG) project at BC Cancer was established under Marco Marra’s leadership

    Cancer

    The project represents one of the first applications of whole genome sequencing in a clinical setting, using information derived from thousands of individual cancer genomes and transcriptomes to identify promising therapeutic targets in individual patients, thus influencing the management of their disease.

  • Marco Marra and his team became the first to publish a genomic study of breast cancer and its metastasis

    Cancer

    Published in "Nature", the study represented Marra’s efforts to apply the knowledge of genomic science to topical problems in cancer research.

  • At the height of the SARS outbreak Marco Marra and his team of researchers successfully sequenced the SARS coronavirus, providing a basis for both vaccine development and diagnostic testing

    Cells, Genetics & Genomics

    The SARS experience demonstrated the power of genome sciences to reveal critically important molecular disease features.

  • Image courtesy of the University of British Columbia 325 x 230

    Became an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia

    While at UBC, he co-founded and co-directed the Genome Science and Technology Graduate Program.

  • A great mentor, Michael Smith hand-picked Marco Marra to succeed him as Director of the GSC

    Cells, Genetics & Genomics

    Under Marco Marra’s leadership, the Centre expanded and now has more than 280 scientists, trainees and staff.

  • Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Smith and Dr. Victor Ling established the Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver

    Marco Marra returned to Canada to become head of the Centre’s mapping and sequencing team.

  • Completed his PhD in Genetics at Simon Fraser University

    He then spent the next five years at Washington University School of Medicine as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and became involved with the work of the Human Genome Project.

  • The Human Genome Project began

    Cells, Genetics & Genomics

    The massive and unprecedented scale of genomic data provided by the HGP has since revolutionized our understanding of disease biology ranging from cancer to cognitive impairment.

1990

Dr. Marra is an example of Canadian medical innovation at its best.