McMaster University

Stem Cell and Cancer
Research Institute

Scope of Search


Tamra Werbowetski-Ogilvie

Tamra Werbowetski-Ogilvie

PhD Neuroscience McGill University


Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Research Summary

The recent surge of publications demonstrating embryonic stem cell-like gene expression signatures in malignant tumors suggests that a strong relationship exists between aggressive cancers and pluripotent stem cells. My work focuses on using human embryonic stem cells to understand early events in neoplastic progression. We have recently characterized multiple human pluripotent stem cell lines that display tumorigenic features such as enhanced self-renewal and proliferation, aberrant differentiation and elevated tumor-initiating capacity. These transformed human stem cells can be used to provide further insight into other cancer stem cell systems.

Selected publications

  • Hong SH, Werbowetski-Ogilvie TE, Ramos-Mejia V, Bhatia M. 2009. Multiparameter comparisons of embryoid body differentiation towards human stem cell applications. Stem Cell Research. 2010 Apr 28. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Werbowetski-Ogilvie TE, Bossé M, Stewart M, Schnerch A, Ramos-Mejia R, Rouleau A, Wynder T, Smith MJ, Dingwall S, Carter T, Wiliams C, Harris C, Dolling J, Wynder C, Boreham D. Bhatia M. 2009. Characterization of human embryonic stem cells with features of neoplastic progression. Nature Biotechnology. 27:91-97.
  • Ji JF*, Werbowetski-Ogilvie TE*, Zhong B, Hong SH, Bhatia M. 2009. Pluripotent transcription factors possess distinct roles in normal versus transformed human stem cells. PLoS ONE. 4:11
  • Werbowetski-Ogilvie TE*, Agar NY*, Waldkircher de Oliveira RM, Faury D, Antel JP, Jabado N, Del Maestro RF. 2006. Isolation of a natural inhibitor of human malignant glial cell invasion: inter alpha trypsin inhibitor heavy chain 2. Cancer Research 66(3) 1464-1472.
  • Werbowetski-Ogilvie TE, Seyed Sadr M, Jabado N, Angers-Loustau A, Agar NY, Wu J, Bjerkvig R, Antel J, Faury D, Rao Y, Del Maestro RF. 2006. Inhibition of medulloblastoma cell invasion by Slit. Oncogene 25(37) 5103-5112.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

Recommended Background Reading

  • Dick JE. 2008. Stem Cell Concepts Renew Cancer Research. Blood. 112: 4793-807.
  • Wicha MS, Liu S, Dontu G. Cancer stem cells: an old idea--a paradigm shift. Cancer Research. 66: 1883-90.
  • Ben-Porath I, Thomson MW, Carey VJ, Ge R, Bell GW, Regev A, Weinberg RA. 2008. An embryonic stem cell-like gene expression signature in poorly differentiated aggressive human tumors. Nature Genetics. 40(5): 499-507.

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