McMaster University

Stem Cell and Cancer
Research Institute

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Mick Bhatia

Mick Bhatia

Director and Senior Scientist

McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCC-RI)

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

Associate Member, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine

Dr. Bhatia’s program seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern somatic and pluripotent human stem cell development through; 1) characterization of molecular pathways and genomic targets that regulate hematopoietic and pluripotent stem cells differentiation, and 2) use novel in vivo models for cellular/tissue regeneration through xeno-transplantation. As a recognized leader in human stem cell biology and applications, Dr. Bhatia’s work has been published in several major journals over the years, and his program continues to focus on two central areas; a) developing abundant sources of human hematopoietic progenitors, and b) using human stem cells to develop treatments to eliminate tumor reoccurrence. Dr. Bhatia also serves as a scientific consultant to government and industry, and to medical companies interested in stem cell-based technologies, and sits on numerous editorial and scientific advisory boards.

Program Outline

  • Characterization of molecular pathways regulating human hematopoietic and pluripotent stem cells including Notch, Sonic Hedgehog, Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, and human Wingless homologs involved in Wnt signaling transduction. These pathways are linked to the uncontrolled growth of tissue initiated by purified stem cells and are important to our understanding of early events in human cellular transformation.
  • Identification of target genes regulated by mesodermal factors and genes involved in controlling self-renewal and differentiation of primary human blood stem cells based on differential expression and ontogenic mechanisms.
  • Creation of novel in vivo models for cellular/tissue regeneration through transplantation of human stem cells.


  • Canadian College of Reviewers-Advisor
  • Science Media Centre of Canada-Advisor
  • Canada Council for the Arts-Advisor
  • Gairdner Medical Review Panel
  • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research-Reviewer
  • Leukaemia Research Fund (UK)-Reviewer/Consultant
  • Welcome Trust (UK)-Advisor
  • Association Francaise Contres les Myopathies, France
  • Singapore Stem Cell Genomics
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Genetics (CIHR IG) - Advisor
  • Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) – reviewer
  • American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) NYSTEM Scientific Peer Advisory and Review Services (SPARS) – reviewer
  • California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) - Grants Working Group (GWG) - reviewer

Funding Support

  • Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine
  • Ontario Research Fund (ORF)
  • National Centres of Excellence (NCE)-Stem Cell Network
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI)
  • Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
  • Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI)-formerly National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC)


B.Sc. (Honors) in Molecular Biology at McMaster University

Ph.D. in Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph

Honours and Awards

Year Description
2013 CBMTG 2013 Till and McCulloch Award
2012 Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal

McMaster University Innovator of the Year


Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) 10th Anniversary Highlights

2009 Canadian Society for Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology Scientist Award
2008 University of Guelph 2008 Alumni Medal of Achievement
2006 - 2020 Canada Research Chair in Human Stem Cell Biology (Tier 1)
2006 Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Stem Cell and Cancer Biology
2003 - 2005 Krembil Foundation Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
2002 - 2005 Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (Tier 2)
2002 Canada's Top 40 Under 40
2000 - 2005 Premier's Research Excellence Award: Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology
1999 - 2002 Scientist Scholarship for Biomedical Sciences: Medical Research Council of Canada

Selected Publications

  • Identification of drugs including a dopamine receptor antagonist that selectively target cancer stem cells. Sachlos E, Risueño R, Laronde S, Shapovalova Z, Lee JH, Russell J, Malig M, McNicol JD, Fiebig-Comyn A, Graham M, Levadoux-Martin M, Lee JB, Giacomelli AO, Hassell JA, Fischer-Russell D, Trus MR, Foley R, Leber B, Xenocostas A, Browne ED, Collins T, Bhatia M. Cell 2012 June 8; 149(6):1284-97.
  • Direct conversion of human fibroblasts to multilineage blood progenitors. Szabo E, Rampalli S, Risueño RM, Schnerch A, Mitchell R, Fiebig-Comyn A, Levadoux-Martin M, Bhatia M. Nature [Epub ahead of print], November 2010.

A) Human Pluripotent Reprogramming Stem Cell Publications

  • Cell Fate Potential of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells is Encoded by Histone Modifications. Hong SH, Rampalli S, Lee JB, McNicol J, Collins T, Draper JS, Bhatia M. Cell Stem Cell. 2011 Jul 8;9(1):24-36
  • Clonal tracking of hESCs reveals differential contribution to functional assays. Stewart MH, Bendall SC, Levadoux-Martin M, Bhatia M. Nat Methods 7, 917-22, November 2010.Nature Biotechnology January 2009
  • Noncanonical Wnt Signaling Orchestrates Early Developmental Events toward Hematopoietic Cell Fate from Human Embryonic Stem Cells. Vijayaragavan, K., Szabo, E., Bossé, M., Ramos-Mejia, V., Moon, R., and Bhatia, M. Cell Stem Cell, Vol 4 (3), pg 248-62, March 2009
  • Characterization of human embryonic stem cells with features of neoplastic progression. Werbowetski-Ogilvie, T., Bossé, M., Stewart, M., Schnerch, A., Ramos-Mejia, V., Rouleau, A., Wynder, T., Smith, M., Dingwall, S., Carter, T., Williams, C., Harris, C., Dolling, J., Wynder, C., Boreham, D., and Bhatia, M. Nature Biotechnology 27, 91 - 97 (2009), January 2009
  • IGF and FGF cooperatively establish the regulatory stem cell niche of pluripotent stem cells in vitro. Bendall, S., Stewart, M., Menendez, P., George, D., Vijayaragavan, K., Werbowetski-Ogilivie, T., Ramos-Mejia, V., Rouleau, A., Yang, J., Bosse, M., Lajoie, G., and Bhatia, M. Nature 448, 1015-1027, August 2007.
  • Complement targeting of nonhuman sialic acid does not mediate cell death of human embryonic stem cells. Cerdan, C., Bendall, S., Wang, L., Stewart, M., Werbowetski, T., and Bhatia, M. Nature Medicine Vol 12 (10), October 2006
  • Clonal isolation of hESCs reveals heterogeneity within the pluripotent stem cell compartment. Stewart, M., Bossé, M., Chadwick, K., Menendez, P., Bendall, S., and Bhatia, M. Nature Methods Vol 3 (10), pg 807-815, October 2006.
  • Generation of hematopoietic repopulating cells from human embryonic stem cells independent of ectopic HOXB4 expression.Wang L., Menendez P., Shojaie F., Li L., Mazurier F., Dick J.E., Cerdan C., Levac K., and Bhatia M.Journal of Experimental Medicine, Vol 201, No 10., May 2005.
  • Endothelial and hematopoietic cell fate of human embryonic stem cells originates from primitive endothelium with hemangioblastic properties. Wang L., Li L., Shojaei F., Levac K., Menendez P., Martin T., Rouleau A. and Bhatia M. Immunity, Vol 21, pg 31-41, July 2004.Nature Biotechnology January 2009

B) Hematopoietic Stem Cell Publications

  • Hematopoietic stem cell biology: too much of a Wnt thing. Trowbridge, J., Moon, R., and Bhatia, M. Nature Immunology Vol 7 (10), pg 1021-1023, October 2006
  • Glycogen synthase kinase-3 is an in vivo regulator of hematopoietic stem cell repopulation. Trowbridge JJ, Xenocostas A, Moon RT, Bhatia M. Nature Medicine 2006 Jan;12(1):89-98. Epub 2005 Dec 11.
  • Hierarchical and ontogenic position serve to define the molecular basis of human hematopoietic stem cell behavior. Shojaei F., Trowbridge J., Gallacher L., Lou Y., Goodale D., Karanu F., Levac K. and Bhatia M. Developmental Cell, Vol 8, pg 651 – 663, May 2005.
  • Bone Marrow derived stem cells initiate pancreatic regeneration. Hess D., Li L., Sakano S., Hill D., Strutt B., Thyssen S., Gray D., and Bhatia M. Nature Biotechnology, Vol 21 (7). pg 763-770, July 2003.
  • Sonic Hedgehog induces the proliferation of primitive human hematopoietic cells via BMP-4 regulation. Bhardwaj G., Murdoch B., Wu D., Karanu F. and Bhatia M. Nature Immunology, Vol 2 (2), pg 172-180, 2001. News and Views pg 142-143

[Mick Bhatia's publications on Pub Med]