Josef Penninger

Professor, UBC Medical Genetics
Director, Life Sciences Institute (LSI)
Life Science Institute (LSI) 5304

2350 Health Sciences Mall

VancouverBC V6T 1Z3

work phone6048270347

Our goal is to develop new and effective treatments for diseases by uncovering the fundamental biological principles underlying development and disease. To accomplish our goals, we develop and deploy a broad range of in vitro and in vivo tools that reveal the fundamental mechanisms involved in human disease. These approaches include genetic editing in vitro and in vivo, human induced pluripotent cell (iPS cell) models of disease, haploid cells for genetic as well as compound screening paradigms, mouse and human organoid cultures, as well as genetically engineered mice. Our multidisciplinary techniques enable us to model and study the complexity of diseases.

Although our research falls under five broadly defined thematic areas below, these systems are subject to substantial crosstalk. As a result, our research in one field influences and informs another, leading to unexpected insight and advances that acknowledge and embrace the complexity of disease and biology.


  1. Wimmer R.A., Leopoldi A., Aichinger M., Wick N., Hantusch B., Novatchkova M., Taubenschmid J., Hämmerle M., Esk C., Bagley J.A., Lindenhofer D., Chen G., Boehm M., Agu C.A., Yang F., Fu B., Zuber J., Knoblich J.A., Kerjaschki D., Penninger J.M. (2019).Human blood vessel organoids as a model of diabetic vasculopathyNature. 565(7740): 505-510.
  2. Cronin, S.J.F., Seehus, C., Weidinger, A., Talbot, S., Reissig, S., Seifert, M., Pierson, Y., McNeill, E., Longhi, M.S., Turnes, B.L., Kreslavsky, T., Kogler, M., Hoffmann, D., Ticevic, M., da Luz Scheffer, D., Tortola, L., Cikes, D., Jais, A., Rangachari, M., Rao, S., Paolino, M., Novatchkova, M., Aichinger, M., Barrett, L., Latremoliere, A., Wirnsberger, G., Lametschwandtner, G., Busslinger, M., Zicha, S., Latini, A., Robson, S.C., Waisman, A., Andrews, N., Costigan, M., Channon, K.M., Weiss, G., Kozlov, A.V., Tebbe, M., Johnsson, K., Woolf, C.J., Penninger, J.M. (2018). The metabolite BH4 controls T cell proliferation in autoimmunity and cancer. Nature. 563: 564–568.
  3. Stadlmann, J., Taubenschmid, J., Wenzel, D., Gattinger, A., Dürnberger, G., Dusberger, F., Elling, U., Mach, L., Mechtler, K., Penninger, J.M. (2017). Comparative glycoproteomics of stem cells identifies new players in ricin toxicity. Nature. 549(7673):538-542.
  4. Elling, U., Wimmer, R.A., Leibbrandt, A., Burkard, T., Michlits, G., Leopoldi, A., Micheler, T., Abdeen, D., Zhuk, S., Aspalter, I.M., Handl, C., Liebergesell, J., Hubmann, M., Husa, A.M., Kinzer, M., Schuller, N., Wetzel, E., van de Loo, N., Martinez, J.A.Z., Estoppey, D., Riedl, R., Yang, F., Fu, B., Dechat, T., Ivics, Z., Agu, C.A., Bell, O., Blaas, D., Gerhardt, H., Hoepfner, D., Stark, A., Penninger, J.M. (2017). A reversible haploid mouse embryonic stem cell biobank resource for functional genomics. Nature. 550(7674):114-118.
  5. Wirnsberger, G., Zwolanek, F., Asaoka, T., Kozieradzki, I., Tortola, L., Wimmer, R.A., Kavirayani, A., Fresser, F., Baier, G., Langdon, W.Y., Ikeda, F., Kuchler, K., Penninger, J.M. (2016). Inhibition of CBLB protects from lethal Candida albicans sepsis. Nat Med. 22(8):915-23.
  6. Sigl, V., Owusu-Boaitey, K., Joshi, P.A., Kavirayani, A., Wirnsberger, G., Novatchkova, M., Kozieradzki, I., Schramek, D., Edokobi, N., Hersl, J., Sampson, A., Odai-Afotey, A., Lazaro, C., Gonzalez-Suarez, E., Pujana, M.A., Cimba, F., Heyn, H., Vidal, E., Cruickshank, J., Berman, H., Sarao, R., Ticevic, M., Uribesalgo, I., Tortola, L., Rao, S., Tan, Y., Pfeiler, G., Lee, E.Y., Bago-Horvath, Z., Kenner, L., Popper, H., Singer, C., Khokha, R., Jones, L.P., Penninger, J.M. (2016). RANKL/RANK control Brca1 mutation-driven mammary tumors. Cell Res. 26(7):761-74.
  7. Paolino, M., Choidas, A., Wallner, S., Pranjic, B., Uribesalgo, I., Loeser, S., Jamieson, A.M., Langdon, W.Y., Ikeda, F., Fededa, J.P., Cronin, S.J., Nitsch, R., Schultz-Fademrecht, C., Eickhoff, J., Menninger, S., Unger, A., Torka, R., Gruber, T., Hinterleitner, R., Baier, G., Wolf, D., Ullrich, A., Klebl, B.M., Penninger, J.M. (2014). The E3 ligase Cbl-b and TAM receptors regulate cancer metastasis via natural killer cells. Nature. 507(7493):508-12.
  8. Hanada, T., Weitzer, S., Mair, B., Bernreuther, C., Wainger, B.J., Ichida, J., Hanada, R., Orthofer, M., Cronin, S.J., Komnenovic, V., Minis, A., Sato, F., Mimata, H., Yoshimura, A., Tamir, I., Rainer, J., Kofler, R., Yaron, A., Eggan, K.C., Woolf, C.J., Glatzel, M., Herbst, R., Martinez, J., Penninger, J.M. (2013). CLP1 links tRNA metabolism to progressive motor-neuron loss. Nature. 495(7442):474-80.
  9. Hashimoto, T., Perlot, T., Rehman, A., Trichereau, J., Ishiguro, H., Paolino, M., Sigl, V., Hanada, T., Hanada, R., Lipinski, S., Wild, B., Camargo, S.M., Singer, D., Richter, A., Kuba, K., Fukamizu, A., Schreiber, S., Clevers, H., Verrey, F., Rosenstiel, P., Penninger, J.M. (2012). ACE2 links amino acid malnutrition to microbial ecology and intestinal inflammation. Nature. 487(7408):477-81.
  10. Elling, U., Taubenschmid, J., Wirnsberger, G., O’Malley, R., Demers, SP., Vanhaelen, Q., Shukalyuk, A.I., Schmauss, G., Schramek, D., Schnuetgen, F., von Melchner, H., Ecker, J.R., Stanford, W.L., Zuber, J., Stark, A., Penninger, J.M. (2011). Forward and reverse genetics through derivation of haploid mouse embryonic stem cells. Cell Stem Cell. 9(6):563-74.
  11. Schramek, D., Leibbrandt, A., Sigl, V., Kenner, L., Pospisilik, J.A., Lee, H.J., Hanada, R., Joshi, P.A., Aliprantis, A., Glimcher, L., Pasparakis, M., Khokha, R., Ormandy, C.J., Widschwendter, M., Schett, G., Penninger, J.M. (2010). Osteoclast differentiation factor RANKL controls development of progestin-driven mammary cancer. Nature. 468(7320):98-102

For a full list of publications please see:

Dr. Josef Penninger is a Canada 150 Chair in Functional Genetics and the Director of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of British Columbia, since December 2018. Prior to this, from 2002-2018, he was the Scientific and Founding Director of IMBA, the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, in Vienna, Austria. From 1994-2002, he worked as a lead researcher at the Amgen Research Institute in Toronto, affiliated with the University of Toronto and the Ontario Cancer Research Centre.