Dr. Hirst is a Senior Scientist and Head of Epigenomics at Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at BC Cancer, Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Associate Director of the Michael Smith Laboratory at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

His research focuses on understanding epigenetic dysfunction in cancer and his laboratory develops experimental and computational tools to characterize normal and transformed cell types down to the single cell level. He applies these tools to explore the epigenomic states of normal and transformed cell types to discover and exploit therapeutic vulnerabilities.

Over the last decade, he has led the development of an internationally recognized epigenomic research program at BC Cancer and UBC. He leads the Centre of Epigenomic Mapping Technologies (CEMT) that represents one of two Canadian epigenomic mapping centres funded as part of the CIHR signature initiative: the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC). Dr. Hirst chairs the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Human Epigenome Consortium (ihec.org) and leads the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium Network (epigenomes.ca) with a mandate to drive epigenetic research in Canada and internationally. Dr. Hirst received a TFRI New Investigator Award (2015) and UBC Killam Research Prize (2018) and has been cited over 48,000 times (Clarivate, 2018 Highly Cited Researcher). 

  • Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Centre for High-Throughput Biology, University of British Columbia 
  • Associate Director of the Michael Smith Laboratory, University of British Columbia
  • B.Sc., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Honours), University of British Columbia
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia


Selected Publications

Synthetic modeling reveals HOXB genes are critical for the initiation and maintenance of human leukemia.

Nature communications, 2019
Kusakabe, Manabu, Sun, Ann Chong, Tyshchenko, Kateryna, Wong, Rachel, Nanda, Aastha, Shanna, Claire, Gusscott, Samuel, Chavez, Elizabeth A, Lorzadeh, Alireza, Zhu, Alice, Hill, Ainsleigh, Hung, Stacy, Brown, Scott, Babaian, Artem, Wang, Xuehai, Holt, Robert A, Steidl, Christian, Karsan, Aly, Humphries, R Keith, Eaves, Connie J, Hirst, Martin, Weng, Andrew P

Fate mapping of human glioblastoma reveals an invariant stem cell hierarchy.

Nature, 2017
Lan, Xiaoyang, Jörg, David J, Cavalli, Florence M G, Richards, Laura M, Nguyen, Long V, Vanner, Robert J, Guilhamon, Paul, Lee, Lilian, Kushida, Michelle M, Pellacani, Davide, Park, Nicole I, Coutinho, Fiona J, Whetstone, Heather, Selvadurai, Hayden J, Che, Clare, Luu, Betty, Carles, Annaick, Moksa, Michelle, Rastegar, Naghmeh, Head, Renee, Dolma, Sonam, Prinos, Panagiotis, Cusimano, Michael D, Das, Sunit, Bernstein, Mark, Arrowsmith, Cheryl H, Mungall, Andrew J, Moore, Richard A, Ma, Yussanne, Gallo, Marco, Lupien, Mathieu, Pugh, Trevor J, Taylor, Michael D, Hirst, Martin, Eaves, Connie J, Simons, Benjamin D, Dirks, Peter B
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