Dr. Jason N. Berman

Principal Investigator
Jason Berman, MD FRCPC FAAP
Attending Physician, Division of Hematology/Oncology
Associate Chair Research, Department of Pediatrics
IWK Health Centre

Departments of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology, and Pathology
Director, Clinician Investigator Program and Graduate Program in Medical Research
Dalhousie University

Dr. Jason Berman was recruited to Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre in 2005 as the endowed MSC Clinician-Scientist in Pediatric Oncology. He completed a clinical fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital and post-doctoral training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute funded by the prestigious Pediatric Scientist Development Program.  Currently, he is a Full Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Immunology and Pathology, and Associate Chair- Research, Department of Pediatrics.

Jason has integrated clinical care and research into his career. As a practicing oncologist, he oversees the Maritime pediatric leukemia program. His innovative research using zebrafish as a preclinical cancer and rare disease model has resulted in national leadership in the disease models field and international recognition. He helped secure $4.4M from Genome Canada and $4.5M from the Atlantic Innovation Fund to set up a preclinical hub for orphan disease research. He is a founding member of the Canadian Rare Disease Models and Mechanisms Network funded by CIHR for $2.3 million and the program’s first successful grant recipient. He co-chairs the International Zebrafish Disease Models Society Hematology Group.

Jason has engaged scientists and clinicians locally, across Canada and beyond to investigate mast cell transcriptional regulation; develop personalized childhood leukemia therapy; determine key transcription factors and cytokines in cancer metastasis; and model bone marrow failure syndromes and hereditary retinal disorders. He has had consistent funding from CIHR, the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, Ewing Cancer Foundation Canada, Terry Fox Research Institute and Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, totaling > $6 million. He has over 60 career publications in high impact journals, including BloodCancer Cell, and Leukemia. He was awarded the Cancer Care Nova Scotia Clinician Scientist Award (2011) and Innovation Award (2012).  In 2016 he was awarded the Department of Pediatrics Senior Research Excellence Award.

Preclinical zebrafish models developed in Jason’s lab inspired establishment of the Atlantic Node of the Vancouver-based Centre for Drug Research and Development (2013) and construction of a $1.8 million laboratory and zebrafish facility at Dalhousie (2014). Leveraging this infrastructure garnered $6.7 million as part of a multi-institutional CFI in rare diseases that has positioned Jason’s lab as the foremost centre for zebrafish disease modeling and drug discovery in the country.

Jason aims to translate findings from laboratory to clinic. In 2014, he co-edited, Cancer Genomics: From Bench to Personalized Medicine, the first such textbook geared to graduate students. He’s been a member of the Children’s Oncology Group Myeloid Committee since 2008, vice-chair of Myeloid Biology (2009-2012) and current co-chair of AAML1531, an international trial of risk-stratified therapy in Down syndrome myeloid leukemia. As co-chair of the C17 Childhood Cancer Network Developmental Therapeutics Committee, he helps prioritize Phase I/II trials for children with cancer across Canada.

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