Dr. Paul Lasko


ResearcH summary

The Lasko lab uses Drosophila to study fundamental genetic regulatory mechanisms that operate at the RNA level (including translational control) and that underlie developmental events. We have made discoveries that have seeded new substantial research fields, as our results have extrapolated to other biological systems including humans. Prof Lasko has been an author on well over 100 scientific publications, which have been cited over 16,000 times (click at top left corner for full list). We presently study Vasa, an RNA binding protein linked to translational control and piRNA processes that is involved in germ cell and stem cell biology in many organisms, and Makorin-1, another RNA-binding protein conserved throughout evolution that we have implicated in germ cell specification. We also collaborate with the Jabado lab (MUHC) and other groups in Montreal and abroad to study mutant forms of histone 3.3 (H3.3) that are driver mutations in certain human cancers. H3.3 is identical in people and flies, and expressing the cancer-linked mutant forms in flies produces deleterious phenotypes. This enables us to conduct modifier screens and also to assess changes in gene expression caused by the mutant H3.3.

Educational Background

Prof Lasko received his A.B. from Harvard and his Ph.D. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and did his postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Michael Ashburner, in the Department of Genetics at Cambridge University. He joined the Biology Department in 1990, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1996 and to Full Professor in 1999, and was Chair from 2000-2010. He was the Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Genetics from 2010-2018. In 2007 Prof Lasko was awarded a James McGill Professorship, in 2014 he won the Prix Armand-Frappier from the Government of Québec for contributions to the development of science in Québec, and in 2016 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.