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Dr. John Lee 

Dr. John Lee is a third year resident  in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Toronto. Previously, He completed his medical school and masters in medical genetics at the University of British Columbia. Since his undergraduate studies at McGill University, he has been involved in oncology research with a focus in pharmacogenomics of adverse drug reactions in pediatric oncology. Currently, his research interests are related to personalized genomics in head and neck cancer. 

pus in personalized genomics and pharmacogenomics of adverse drug reactions.

  1. What research are you doing with Dr. Liu? Why is this research important?


The two research studies I am working on are: 

A Personalized Genomic Approach to Cisplatin-related Hearing Loss in Head and Neck Cancer Patients:

  • Cisplatin is the standard chemotherapeutic drug for the treatment of locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Unfortunately, up to 50-60% of patients experience irreversible and significant hearing loss. My current research aims to identify genetic risk variants that put patients at risk of ototoxicity. Identification of at-risk patients for permanent hearing loss may provide crucial opportunities to prevent, detect and treat early, thus preventing devastating quality-of-life and functional hearing loss.


Genetic Influence of Smoking in Head and Neck Cancer:

  • Tobacco use is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for head and neck cancer. To date, genes have been shown to play an important role in being predisposed to smoking and having risky smoking behaviours. While these genetic associations have been studied in the general population, this has yet to be investigated in a cancer specific population, let alone head and neck cancer. My current research aims to look at how much genes involved in smoking play a role in patients with head and neck cancer and if it has any relationship with the risk of developing this devastating malignancy.  


Why did you choose to do research in this lab?
I was first introduced to Dr. Liu during my masters studies through the Canadian Pharmacogenomics Network of Drug Safety (CPNDS). At that time, I was working on a project studying the pharmacogenomics of cisplatin-induced ototoxicity in pediatric oncology. Starting residency in Toronto, I wanted to continue on in this area of research and I was fortunate to join Dr. Liu’s lab. 


What attracted you to be an ear, nose and throat surgeon?
Certainly, my initial work in hearing loss in pediatric oncology sparked my interest in Otolaryngology. Throughout medical school, I was then exposed to the breadth of the speciality which led me to ultimately choose the path to becoming an ENT surgeon. The wide variety in conditions, surgical techniques and patient population makes Otolaryngology a unique surgical speciality. 

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