Research at MBiotech


The MBiotech Program actively participates in research, offering several opportunities for its graduate students to become involved in the research activities of our associated Faculty. Here is our latest contribution to the biopharma research community, hot off the press!


Parker JL, Kuzulugil SS, Pereverzev K, Mac S, Lopes G, Shah Z, Weerasinghe A, Rubinger D, Falconi A, Bener A, Caglayan B, Tangri R, Mitsakakis N

Does biomarker use in oncology improve clinical trial failure risk? A large‐scale analysis

Cancer Medicine, 2021;10(6): 1955-1963

Impact Factor: 3.4

Biomarkers students group pictureA pre-COVID photo of some of the students involved in the study. From right: Rohan Tangri, Ashini Weerasinghe, Zain Shah, Kirill Pereverzev and Stephen Mac.

Zain Shah, Class of 2017 (BioPh Stream):

"This ROP (research opportunity program) was one of the most fundamental experiences I had as an undergraduate student. Not only did it give me the opportunity to get involved in original research, but expanded my skill set by learning new research methodologies, while acquiring domain specific knowledge. This study helps quantify the impact of biomarker use on clinical trial risk (i.e. the likelihood of a clinical trial progressing to the next stage in a drug development program) in oncology across four major disease conditions. The potential benefits of biomarker use include but are not limited to, diminishing costs of development by better patient selection, more cost-effective use of anti-cancer drugs, predicting a patient's response to therapy with more precision, and ultimately, leading to improvements in personalized medicine for the patient”


Zain Shah Headshot


Application relevance: This study provides the first systematic statistical evidence that biomarkers clearly increase clinical trial success rates in three different indications in oncology. Also, exploratory biomarkers, long before they are properly validated, appear to improve success rates in oncology. This study supports early and aggressive adoption of biomarkers in oncology clinical trials.


Li AJ, Dhanraj JP, Lopes G, Parker JL.

Clinical trial risk in leukemia: Biomarkers and trial design.

Hematological Oncology 2021; 39(1): 105-113.

Impact factor: 2.8

Headshot Jasper Dhanraj

Headshot Alice

Alice Li, Lead author, Class of 2021 (BioPh Stream):

“The courses I took as part of the MBiotech curriculum sparked my interest in clinical trial designs and risks, and inspired me to pursue this research opportunity. This project helped me further understand the complexities of clinical trials, as well as the many multifaceted factors physicians must consider when prioritizing clinical trials for patients. This research topic complemented the learnings from the MBiotech program, and continuous support by the program and faculty (in particular Dr. Parker) allowed us to succeed in this research, thanks MBiotech!”

Application relevance: The study explored clinical trial design and biomarker choices that may improve clinical trial testing success rates of new medicines in leukemia. The use of biomarkers dramatically improved success rates ranging from 3 to 7-fold depending upon the indication.  These and other findings allow oncologists to prioritize oncology trials in which to enrol their patients.