Fred Dick

Genetics & Development Dr. Fred Dick


Scientist, Division of Genetics & Development, Children’s Health Research Institute
Associate Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Oncology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University
Scientist, Cancer Research Labs, London Regional Cancer Program, Lawson Health Research Institute

How my research helps children

My research is focused on the mechanisms that regulate cell proliferation. A key gene that regulates the cell proliferation process is the retinoblastoma susceptibility gene.  This gene was originally identified because mutations in it predispose children to this rare form of eye cancer.  It is now known that disruption of the retinoblastoma gene’s function in controlling cell growth is universal in human cancer.  Furthermore, as a master regulator of cell growth it plays a critical role in ensuring normal development.  Thus, by studying a gene from a rare pediatric cancer, my research is applicable to all types of cancer and many developmental processes.


Current Research Activities

My laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms of proliferative control that guide development and are disrupted in cancer.  Our approach involves the use of in vitro biochemical techniques, cell culture, and gene-targeted mice.  My research spans the spectrum from detailed molecular mechanisms to how these mechanisms contribute to cancer pathogenesis in animal models of human disease.  Research from my lab has been published in a number of leading journals, including a recent study in the prestigious ‘Genes and Development.’

Research Team

My lab consists of five graduate students, a technician, and a post-doctoral fellow.  These individuals have obtained independent fellowship support from agencies such as Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF), Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Future Research Plans

My research group has generated two new genetically modified strains of mice to further investigate the mechanisms of proliferative control and how they are disrupted in cancer.  These new strains of mice will be the cornerstone of future research in this area.

Awards & Grants

Awards & Grants

Senior Research Fellowship in Tumor Supressor Genes – Awarded by Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Funding in support of "London Strategic Training Initiative in Cancer Research and Technology Transfer" – Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Funding in support of "Regulation of heterochromatin by the retinoblastoma protein in cell cycle control and cancer" – Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Funding in support of "Differential control of E2F transcription factors by pRB in normal and cancer" – Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Excellence in Academics Award – Awarded by The University of Western Ontario

Early Researcher Award – Awarded by Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (2006-2011)

Canadian Cancer Society Research Scientist Award – Awarded by National Cancer Institute of Canada (2004 – 2010)

Funding in support of “The role of the retinoblastoma protein in TGF-beta induced growth arrest” – Awarded by Cancer Research Society

Funding in support of “Differential Control of E2F Transcription Factors by pRB in Normal and Cancer Cells” – Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Funding in support of “Defining Oncogenic Determinants in the Retinoblastoma Tumor Suppressor Protein II: Regulation of heterochromatin by the retinoblastoma protein in cell cycle control and cancer” – Awarded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Funding in support of “The Retinoblastoma Gene as a Genetic Risk Factor in Inherited Breast Cancer” – Awarded by Cancer Research Society

Recent Publications


Adenovirus E1A directly targets the E2F/DP-1 complex
Pelka P, Miller MS, Cecchini M, Yousef AF, Bowdish DM, Dick F, Whyte P, Mymryk JS
J Virol. 2011 85, 8841-51

A context-specific role for retinoblastoma protein-dependent negative growth in suppressing mammary tumorigenesis
Francis SM, Chakrabarti S, Dick FA
PLoS ONE. 2011 6, e16434

The biochemical basis of CDK phosphorylation-independent regulation of E2F1 by the retinoblastoma protein
Cecchini M, Dick FA
Biochem J. 2011 434, 297-308

An Overlapping Kinase and Phosphatase Docking Site Regulates Activity of the Retinoblastoma Protein
Hirschi A, Cecchini M, Steinhardt R, Schamber MR, Dick FA, Rubin SM
Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2010 17, 1051-57

Identification of a molecular recognition feature in the E1A oncoprotein that binds the SUMO conjugase UBC9 and likely interferes with polySUMOylation
Yousef AF, Fonseca GJ, Pelka P, Ablack JNG, Walsh C, Dick FA, Bazett-Jones D, Shaw GS, Mymryk JS
Oncogene. 2010 29, 4693-4704

Mitotic chromosome condensation by the retinoblastoma protein is tumor suppressive
|Coschi CH, Martens AL, Ritchie K, Francis SM, Chakrabarti S, Berube NG, Dick FA
Genes Dev. 2010 24, 1351-63

A cancer derived mutation in the Retinoblastoma gene with a distinct defect for LXCXE dependent interactions
Henley SA, Francis SM, Demone J, Ainsworth P, Dick FA.
Cancer Cell Int. 2010 Mar 18;10:8.

A G1 checkpoint mediated by the retinoblastoma protein that is dispensable in terminal differentiation but essential for senescence.
Talluri S, Isaac CE, Ahmad M, Henley SA, Francis SM, Martens AL, Bremner R, Dick FA.
Mol Cell Biol. 2010 Feb;30(4):948-60.

A functional connection between pRB and transforming growth factor beta in growth inhibition and mammary gland development
Francis SM, Bergsied J, Isaac CE, Coschi CH, Martens AL, Hojilla CV, Chakrabarti S, Dimattia GE, Khoka R, Wang JY, Dick FA.
Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Aug;29(16):4455-66

pRB-E2F1 complexes are resistant to adenovirus E1A-mediated disruption
Seifried LA, Talluri S, Cecchini M, Julian LM, Mymryk JS, Dick FA
J Virol. 2008 May;82(9):4511-20

Characterization of an E2F1-specific binding domain in pRB and its implications for apoptotic regulation
Julian LM, Palander O, Seifried LA, Foster JE, Dick FA
Oncogene. 2008 Mar 6;27(11):1572-9

Structure-function analysis of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein - is the whole a sum of its parts?
Dick FA.
Cell Div. 2007 Sep 13;2:26

Retinoblastoma protein and anaphase-promoting complex physically interact and functionally cooperate during cell-cycle exit.
Binné UK, Classon MK, Dick FA, Wei W, Rape M, Kaelin WG Jr, Näär AM, Dyson NJ.
Nat Cell Biol. 2007 Feb;9(2):225-32

The retinoblastoma protein regulates pericentric heterochromatin
Isaac CE, Francis SM, Martens AL, Julian LM, Seifried LA, Erdmann N, Binné UK, Harrington L, Sicinski P, Bérubé NG, Dyson NJ, Dick FA.
Mol Cell Biol. 2006 May;26(9):3659-71

Addtional publications



Phone: (519) 685-8620      
Fax: (519) 685-8616
Email: fdick [at] uwo [dot] ca

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