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Charles M. (Charlie) Boone, PhD

Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research
Department of Molecular Genetics
University of Toronto

Where I Am From: Toronto

Where I Studied:
University of Oregon
PDF at Institute of Molecular Biology, 1989 to 1993

McGill University
PhD in Biology, 1989

Queen’s University
BSc in Chemistry and Math, 1982


My Story: The next time you bite into a thick slice of bread, give one of its ingredients a second thought—yeast. Yeast is providing spectacular insights into the science of cells.

Amazingly enough, the function of many yeast genes is conserved in humans. Full genome sequences identify all genes and their organization within a particular organism. One of the next major challenges researchers are facing is to be able to explain the function of each gene. The yeast model system is famous for its relatively simple but elegant genetic methodology, often referred to as the “awesome power of yeast genetics.”

My lab developed an automated approach for genetic analysis, enabling us to map genetic networks on a large-scale and determine the function of all genes in a yeast model system. The resultant genetic network’s will provide us with an understanding of basic cellular functions and can be used to decipher the targets of bioactive molecules, including human therapeutics. What we observe about cell growth and division in yeast is relevant to a molecular understanding of a number of diseases, including cancer.

The genetic networks my lab maps identify genes that work together in the cell to carry out essential functions which may provide insight into our understanding of the molecular basis of inherited traits. In collaboration with Brenda Andrews’ lab, we have built up a unique facility for automated and large-scale genetic analysis in yeast. Our impact on the average person is indirect; however, the research is tightly linked to science education and it is medically relevant with the potential to discover therapeutic targets and drug leads.

It really does speak to the collaborative nature of the Donnelly Centre when I realize that my lab has already worked closely with the Andrews, Hughes, Giaever, Nislow, Brown, Bader, Morris, Frey labs, and others to study yeast functional genomics and its computational analysis. The potential for collaborative and multidisciplinary projects between biologists, computer scientists and engineers is part of this centre’s appeal. 

For more information on my work, please e-mail me at charlie.boone@utoronto.ca



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