null Julia Burnier, PhD

Junior Scientist, RI-MUHC , Glen site

Cancer Research Program

Centre for Translational Biology

Assistant Professor, Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill University



cancer genomics • proteomics • liquid biopsy • ctDNA • metastasis

Research Focus

My research focuses on understanding the dynamic molecular changes that occur during tumour progression and metastasis through liquid biopsy. Our ability to study tumour biology and uncover new approaches to prevent and treat cancer is limited because it relies on tissue from a biopsy, which carries several issues: inadequate sampling, rare but serious complications, and, importantly, the limitation of having one static picture of the tumour – thereby neglecting the dynamics of tumour evolution. To overcome these issues, my lab tracks tumour evolution through a liquid biopsy, a minimally invasive approach to monitor disease progression, recurrence and treatment response using a blood sample. Detection of circulating tumour cells, DNA and extracellular vesicles can contribute to early diagnosis and personalized management. Liquid biopsy can inform on the changing mutational status of the disease and help to guide therapy. My lab works towards identifying specific initiating and metastasis-promoting mutations that can track disease through ctDNA as a biomarker. We also study the contribution of EVs to cancer progression, and synthesize lipid nanoparticles to study EV behaviour and as a drug delivery system for anti-cancer therapy.

Selected Publications

  • Tsering T, Laskaris A, Abdouh M, Bustamante P, Parent S, Jin E, Ferrier ST, Arena G, Burnier JV. Uveal Melanoma-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Display Transforming Potential and Carry Protein Cargo Involved in Metastatic Niche Preparation. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Oct 11;12(10):2923. doi: 10.3390/cancers12102923. PMID: 33050649.

  • Yang C, Lheureux S, Karakasis K, Burnier JV, Bruce J, Clouthier DL, Danesh A, Quevedo R, Dowar M, Hanna Y, Li T, Lu L, Xu W, Clarke BA, Ohashi PS, Shaw PA, Pugh TJ, Oza AM. Landscape of genomic alterations in high-grade serous ovarian cancer from exceptional long- and short-term survivors. Genome Medicine. 2018. In press.

  • Lheureux S, Bruce JP, Burnier JV, Karakasis K, Shaw PA, Clarke BA, Yang SY, Quevedo R, Li T, Dowar M, Bowering V, Pugh TJ, Oza AM. Somatic BRCA1/2 Recovery as a Resistance Mechanism After Exceptional Response to Poly (ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibition. J Clin Oncol 35(11): 1240-9, 2017.

  • Beltran-Sastre V, Benisty H, Burnier J, Berger I, Serrano L, Kiel C. Tuneable endogenous mammalian target complementation via multiplexed plasmid-based recombineering. Nature Scientific Reports 5: 17432, 2015.

  • Grünberg R., Burnier JV, Ferrar T, Beltran-Sastre V, Stricher F, van der Sloot A, Garcia-Olivas R, Mallabiabarrena A, Sanjuan X, Zimmermann T, Serrano L. Engineering of weak helper interactions for high-efficiency FRET probes, Nat Methods. 10(10): 1021–7, 2013.