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Scientist profiles A-F

SRI profiles

David W. Andrews

Senior scientist

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Ave., Room M7 621
Toronto, ON
M4N 3M5


Phone: 416-480-6100 ext. 65120

Administrative Assistant: Michael Le
416-480-6100 ext. 685482


  • B.Sc., 1979, biochemistry, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • PhD, 1985, medical biophysics, University of Toronto, Canada
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, 1988, cell physiology, University of California, San Francisco, U.S.

Appointments and Affiliations:

Research Foci:

  • Cancer research
  • Molecular membrane biology
  • High-content screening
  • Automated image analysis
  • Apoptosis

Research Summary:

Our research areas include cancer chemotherapy, the molecular mechanisms by which Bcl-2 family proteins regulate apoptosis, the assembly of proteins into the cellular membranes, high-content screening, early stage drug discovery, the development of new fluorescence microscopes and automated image analysis techniques.

We are studying the mechanisms by which the Bcl-2 family of proteins regulate selective programmed cell death (apoptosis) of cancer cells. We are particularly interested in determining how cells respond to chemotherapy drugs. The Bcl-2 family proteins that we study include those that initiate cell execution (Bax and Bak), as well as those that inhibit (Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, Mcl-1) or promote (Bim, Bid, Bad) the process. Our recent data indicate an unexpected role for binding to membranes in regulating how Bcl-2 family proteins interact with each other. We believe that by studying protein to protein interactions where they take place-in the membranes of live cells-we will be able to identify more effective therapies.

Examining protein to protein interaction is one of the most challenging areas of cell biology. To extend our analyses to live cells and to include measurements of the effects of drugs and drug candidates we have developed new approaches, instruments and software. With industrial partners we are developing new automated microscopes that provide both time and chromatic spectral data that we use to measure protein to protein interactions and to perform drug mechanism studies. These instruments generate data sets containing millions of images. In order to analyse these images we have written new machine learning software for image analysis and cell classification. Our current imaging techniques include automated fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence lifetime imaging, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, single molecule imaging and hyperspectral imaging. Our imaging research recently culminated in the establishment of a new $9-million image-based screening facility at Sunnybrook Research Institute.

Selected Publications:

See current publications list at PubMed.

  1. Pogmore JP, Uehling D, Andrews DW. Pharmacological Targeting of Executioner Proteins: Controlling Life and Death. J Med Chem. 2021 May 13;64(9):5276-5290.
  2. Pemberton JM, Pogmore JP, Andrews DW. Neuronal cell life, death, and axonal degeneration as regulated by the BCL-2 family proteins. Cell Death Differ. 2021 Jan;28(1):108-122.
  3. Bogner C, Kale J, Pogmore J, Chi X, Shamas-Din A, Fradin C, Leber B, Andrews DW. Allosteric Regulation of BH3 Proteins in Bcl-xL Complexes Enables Switch-like Activation of Bax. Mol Cell. 2020 Feb 20;77(4):901-912.e9.
  4. Liu Q, Osterlund EJ, Chi X, Pogmore J, Leber B, Andrews DW. Bim escapes displacement by BH3-mimetic anti-cancer drugs by double-bolt locking both Bcl-XL and Bcl-2. Elife. 2019 Mar 12;8:e37689.
  5. Rapid 3D phenotypic analysis of neurons and organoids using data-driven cell segmentation-free machine learning. Mergenthaler P, Hariharan S, Pemberton JM, Lourenco C, Penn LZ, Andrews DW.PLoS Comput Biol. 2021 Feb 22;17(2):e1008630. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008630. eCollection 2021 Feb.PMID: 33617523
  6. Osterlund EJ, Hirmiz N, Pemberton JM, et al. Efficacy and specificity of inhibitors of BCL-2 family protein interactions assessed by affinity measurements in live cells. Science Advances. 2022;8(16):eabm7375. doi:doi:10.1126/sciadv.abm7375

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