Michael Forrester

PhD Student

Email: michael.forrester@dal.ca

Hailing from Toronto, ON, Michael graduated from University of Toronto in 2007 with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Genetics.  During that time, he worked as a summer and Honours research student with Dr. David Malkin at The Hospital for Sick Children, studying molecular signaling pathways in pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma.

Michael is pursuing a Ph.D. in the Berman lab.  His research uses genetically-modified zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a disease model of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), to investigate the molecular and cellular effects of HOXA9.  HOXA9 is the most frequently upregulated gene in human AML, which suggests that it plays a central role in the disease.  HOXA9 is a highly conserved transcription factor and is essential for blood cell development, but little is known of its direct activity.  Michael is studying the effects of HOXA9 on blood cell programming and maturation, as well as cell proliferation and apoptosis.  He has presented his work at local symposiums and international conferences, such as the International Conference on Zebrafish Development & Genetics, and the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting.

Michael also enjoys spreading public awareness of science.  As a member of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Speakers Bureau, he has travelled to diverse communities and high school classrooms across Nova Scotia, to speak with people about the importance of research.

Ultimately, Michael seeks to pursue a career as a Clinician Scientist – an M.D. who also performs scientific research.

Scholarships & Awards:

  • 2009 Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) Traineeship Award
  • 2008 CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship
  • 2009 Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine Graduate Student Research Day Poster Award
  • 2008 CRTP Symposium Poster Honourable Mention


  • Forrester AM, Grabher C, McBride ER, Boyd ER, Vigerstad MH, Edgar A, Kai FB, DA’as SI, Payne E, Look AT, Berman JN. NUP98-HOXA9-transgenic zebrafish develop a myeloproliferative neoplasm and provide new insight into mechanisms of myeloid leukaemogenesis. Br J Haematol. 2011 Aug 2. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2011.08810.x.
  • Adam D. Durbin, Gino R. Somers, Michael Forrester, Malgorzata Pienkowska, Gregory E. Hannigan, David Malkin. (2009) JNK1 determines the oncogenic or tumor-suppressive activity of the integrin-linked kinase in human rhabdomyosarcoma. J. Clin. Invest. 119(6): 1558-70.

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