After spending a number of years in the U.S. , Adam has returned to his home province of Nova Scotia. Since his return, Adam has completed a bachelor of science in honours at Acadia University in 2011. His undergraduate research, conducted in Dr. Kirk Hillier’s lab, focused on analyzing the olfactory system of invertebrates. The olfactory system is homologous to that of vertebrates and offer as a simple model in determining how we smell things in our environment on a day-to-day basis.
Adam has since joined the Berman lab as a MSc candidate in 2011. Now his research uses genetically modified zebrafish as a simple model for research into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is the most common myeloid disease in adults, accounts for nearly 20% of pediatric leukemias and retains a poor overall survival of 60%. Recent work has shown that the NUP98-HOXA9 gene fusion is linked to this form of high-risk leukemia. HOXA9 specifically is a highly conserved transcription factor and is crucial for proper blood-cell development. When it translocates and fuses to NUP98 it is overexpressed and blood-cell development is negatively altered. Adam will work with zebrafish that express this mutation as well as combinations of Meis1 and β-catenin, which have been shown to increase the chance of overt AML. Studying these genetic defects will potentially lead to novel gene therapies that will offer greater survival expectancy with decreased toxicity.
Adam also brings a unique personal perspective to the lab. Only days after graduating high school he was diagnosed with AML and had to endure treatment while confined to a hospital room for one year. He has since made a great recovery and brings not only a different point of view to lab but also a strong enthusiasm to learn more and take science one-step closer to discovering a cure for AML.