Professor, Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia
Director, Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at BC Cancer
Canada Research Chair in Genome Science
phone: 6046758168

I am Professor of Medical Genetics at UBC; UBC Canada Research Chair in Genome Science; and Director of Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (GSC). I was trained as a geneticist, and have been involved in the development and application of high-throughput genomics strategies, with special emphasis on large-scale DNA sequencing and bioinformatics. I have spent much of my career working within, and leading, teams to conduct large-scale high throughput genomics projects.

A current focus of my research activities involves the development and application of “next generation” sequencing approaches to characterize cancer genomes, transcriptomes and epigenomes, with the aim of comprehensive identification of the genetic and epigenetic changes that drive cancer progression. With such data, and as co-Leader of the BC Cancer Personalized Oncogenomics Project, my objective is the development of a new generation of diagnostic, prognostic and treatment strategies to benefit cancer patients.

A second focus of my research revolves around the functional interplay between cancer genomes and epigenomes. My team has described the strikingly high frequency of mutations in transcriptional regulators, including chromatin modifiers, implying they are “cancer genes,” and that mutations in them drive cancers. The interplay between the genome and the epigenome is thus exploited by cancer cells, but exactly how, the extent to which common mechanisms exist across cancers and whether answers to such questions might reveal therapeutic opportunities, all require investigation. My team is analyzing the cancer regulatory networks impacted by epigenome dysregulation, using cell biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, and functional genomics tools, and we aim to understand the selective advantages conferred to cancer cells as a consequence of such dysregulation. My objectives are: (1) to identify and characterize regulatory networks disrupted by epigenome dysregulation in cancer; (2) to assess the extent to which epigenome dysregulation converges on common pathways/networks in different malignancies; and, (3) to identify candidate therapeutic vulnerabilities resulting from epigenome dysregulation.

Selected Publications

Gagliardi A, Porter VL, Zong Z, Bowlby R, Titmuss E, Namirembe C, Griner NB, Petrello H, Bowen J, Chan S, Culibrk L, Darragh TM, Stoler MH, Wright TC, Gesuwan P, Dyer M, Ma Y, Mungall KL, Jones S, Nakisige C, Novik K, Orem J, Origa M, Gastier-Foster JM, Yarchoan R, Casper C,Mills GB, Rader JS, Ojesina AI, Gerhard DS, Mungall AJ, Marra MA. Analysis of Ugandan cervical carcinomas reveals human papillomavirus clade-specific epigenome and transcriptome landscapes. Nat Genet.  2020 Aug;52(8):800-810. doi: 10.1038/s41588-020-0673-7.

Pleasance E, Titmuss E, Williamson L, Kwan H, Zhao EY, Dixon K, Fan K, Culibrk L, Bowlby R, Jones MR, Shen Y, Grewal JK, Ashkani J, Wee K, Grisdale CJ, Thibodeau ML, Bozoky Z, Pearson H, Majounie E, Vira T, Shenwai R, Mungall KL, Chuah E, Davies J, Warren M, Reisle C, Bonakdar M, Taylor GA, Csizmok V, Chan SK, Zong S, Bilobram S, Muhammadzadeh A, D’Souza D, Corbett RD, MacMillan D, Carreira M, Choo C, Bleile D, Sadeghi S, Zhang W, Wong T, Cheng D, Brown SD, Holt RA, Moore RA, Mungall AJ, Zhao YJ, Nelson J, Fok A, Ma Y, Lee MKC, Lavoie J-M, Mendis S,  Karasinska JM, Deol B, Fisic A, Schaeffer DF, Yip S, Schrader K, Regier DA, Weymann D, Chia S, Gelmon K, Tinker A, Sun S, Lim H, Renouf DJ, Jones SJM, Laskin J, Marra MA. Pan-cancer analysis of advanced patient tumors reveals interactions between therapy and genomic landscapes. Nat Cancer. 2020 Apr 13: 1:452-468. (https://doi.org/10.1038/s43018-020-0050-6)

Chun HE, Johann PD, Milne K, Zapatka M, Buellesbach A, Ishaque N, Iskar M, Erkek S, Wei L, Tessier-Cloutier B, Lever J, Titmuss E, Topham JT, Bowlby R, Chuah E, Mungall KL, Ma Y, Mungall AJ, Moore RA, Taylor MD, Gerhard DS, Jones SJM, Korshunov A, Gessler M, Kerl K, Hasselblatt M, Frühwald MC, Perlman EJ, Nelson BH, Pfister SM, Marra MA, Kool M. Identification and Analyses of Extra-Cranial and Cranial Rhabdoid Tumor Molecular Subgroups Reveal Tumors with Cytotoxic T Cell Infiltration. Cell Rep. 2019 Nov 19; 29 (8): 2338-2354.e7.

Bolouri H, Farrar JE, Triche T Jr, Ries RE, Lim EL, Alonzo TA, Ma Y, Moore R, Mungall AJ, Marra MA, Zhang J, Ma X, Liu Y, Liu Y, Auvil JMG, Davidsen TM, Gesuwan P, Hermida LC, Salhia B, Capone S, Ramsingh G, Zwaan CM, Noort S, Piccolo SR, Kolb EA, Gamis AS, Smith MA, Gerhard DS, Meshinchi S. The molecular landscape of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia reveals recurrent structural alterations and age-specific mutational interactions. Nat Med. 2019 Mar;25(3):530. doi: 10.1038/s41591-019-0369-7.

Morrissy AS, Cavalli FM, Remke M, Ramaswamy V, Shih DJ, Holgado BL, Farooq H, Donovan LK, Garzia L, Agnihotri S, Kiehna EN, Mercier E, Mayoh C, Papillon-Cavanagh S, Nikbakht H, Gayden T, Torchia J, Picard D, Merino DM, Vladoiu M, Luu B, Wu X, Daniels C, Horswell S, Thompson YY, Hovestadt V, Northcott PA, Jones DT, Peacock J, Wang X, Mack SC, Reimand J, Albrecht S, Fontebasso AM, Thiessen N, Li Y, Schein JE, Lee D, Carlsen R, Mayo M, Tse K, Tam A, Dhalla N, Ally A, Chuah E, Cheng Y, Plettner P, Li HI, Corbett RD, Wong T, Long W, Loukides J, Buczkowicz P, Hawkins CE, Tabori U, Rood BR, Myseros JS, Packer RJ, Korshunov A, Lichter P, Kool M, Pfister SM, Schüller U, Dirks P, Huang A, Bouffet E, Rutka JT, Bader GD, Swanton C, Ma Y, Moore RA, Mungall AJ, Majewski J, Jones SJ, Das S, Malkin D, Jabado N, Marra MA, Taylor MD. Spatial heterogeneity in medulloblastoma. Nat Genet. 2017 May;49(5):780-788.

Chun H-Y, Lim EL, Heravi-Moussavi A, Saberi S, Mungall KL, Bilenky M, Carles A, Tse K, Shlafman I, Zhu K, Qian JQ, Harvey D, He An, Long W, Goya R, Ng M, LeBlanc VG, Pleasance E, Thiessen N, Wong T, Chuah E, Zhao YJ, Schein JE, Gerhard DS, Taylor MD, Mungall AJ, Moore RA,  Ma Y, Jones SJM, Perlman EJ, Hirst M, Marra MA. Genome-wide profiles of extra-cranial malignant rhabdoid tumors reveal heterogeneity and dysregulated developmental pathways. Cancer Cell. 2016 Mar 14; 29(3): 394-406.

Morrissy AS, Garzia L, Shih DJ, Zuyderduyn S, Huang X, Skowron P, Remke M, Cavalli FM, Ramaswamy V, Lindsay PE, Jelveh S, Donovan LK, Wang X, Luu B, Zayne K, Li Y, Mayoh C, Thiessen N, Mercier E, Mungall KL, Ma Y, Tse K, Zeng T, Shumansky K, Roth AJ, Shah S, Farooq H, Kijima N, Holgado BL, Lee JJ, Matan-Lithwick S, Liu J, Mack SC, Manno A, Michealraj KA, Nor C, Peacock J, Qin L, Reimand J, Rolider A, Thompson YY, Wu X, Pugh T, Ally A, Bilenky M, Butterfield YS, Carlsen R, Cheng Y, Chuah E, Corbett RD, Dhalla N, He A, Lee D, Li HI, Long W, Mayo M, Plettner P, Qian JQ, Schein JE, Tam A, Wong T, Birol I, Zhao Y, Faria CC, Pimentel J, Nunes S, Shalaby T, Grotzer M, Pollack IF, Hamilton RL, Li XN, Bendel AE, Fults DW, Walter AW, Kumabe T, Tominaga T, Collins VP, Cho YJ, Hoffman C, Lyden D, Wisoff JH, Garvin JH Jr, Stearns DS, Massimi L, Schüller U, Sterba J, Zitterbart K, Puget S, Ayrault O, Dunn SE, Tirapelli DP, Carlotti CG, Wheeler H, Hallahan AR, Ingram W, MacDonald TJ, Olson JJ, Van Meir EG, Lee JY, Wang KC, Kim SK, Cho BK, Pietsch T, Fleischhack G, Tippelt S, Ra YS, Bailey S, Lindsey JC, Clifford SC, Eberhart CG, Cooper MK, Packer RJ, Massimino M, Garre ML, Bartels U, Tabori U, Hawkins CE, Dirks P, Bouffet E, Rutka JT, Wechsler-Reya RJ, Weiss WA, Collier LS, Dupuy AJ, Korshunov A, Jones DT, Kool M, Northcott PA, Pfister SM, Largaespada DA, Mungall AJ, Moore RA, Jabado N, Bader GD, Jones SJ, Malkin D, Marra MA, Taylor MD. Divergent Clonal Selection Dominates Medulloblastoma at Recurrence. Nature.  2016 Jan 21;529(7586):351-357.

Shah SP, Roth A, Goya R, Oloumi A, Ha G, Zhao YJ, Turashvili G, Ding J, Tse K, Haffari G, Bashashati A, Prentice L, Khattra J, Burleigh A, Yap D, Bernard V, McPherson A, Shumansky K,  Crisan A, Giuliany R, Heravi-Moussavi A, Rosner J, Lai D, Birol I, Varhol R, Tam A, Dhalla N, Zeng T, Ma K, Chan S, Griffith M, Moradian A, Cheng SWG, Morin G, Watson P, Gelmon K, Chia S, Chin S-F, Curtis C, Rueda O, Pharoah P, Damaraju S, Mackey J, Hoon K, Harkins T, Tadigotla V, Sigaroudinia M, Gascard P, Tlsty T, Costello J, Meyer IM, Eaves CE, Wasserman WW, Jones S, Huntsman D, Hirst M, Caldas C, Marra MA, Aparicio S. The clonal and mutational evolution spectrum of primary triple-negative breast cancers. Nature. 2012 Apr 4;486(7403):395-399.

Morin RD, Mendez-Lago M, Mungall AJ, Goya R, Mungall KL, Corbett RD, Johnson NA, Severson TM, Chiu R, Field M, Jackman S, Krzywinski M, Scott DW, Trinh DL, Tamura-Wells J, Li S, Firme MR, Rogic S, Griffith M, Chan S, Yakovenko O, Meyer IM, Zhao EY, Smailus D, Moksa M, Chittaranjan S, Rimsza L, Brooks-Wilson A, Spinelli JJ, Ben-Neriah S, Meissner B, Woolcock B, Boyle M, McDonald H, Tam A, Zhao Y, Delaney A, Zeng T, Tse K, Butterfield Y, Birol I, Holt R, Schein J, Horsman DE, Moore R, Jones SJ, Connors JM, Hirst M, Gascoyne RD, Marra MA. Frequent mutation of histone- modifying genes in non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Nature. 2011 Jul 27;476(7360):298-303.

Jones SJM, Laskin J, Li YY, Griffith OL, An J, Bilenky M, Butterfield YS, Cezard T, Chuah E, Corbett R, Fejes A,  Griffith M, Yee J, Montgomery M, Mayo M, Melnyk N, Morin RD, Pugh TJ, Severson T, Shah SP, Sutcliffe M, Tam A, Terry J, Thiessen N, Thomson T, Varhol R, Zeng T, Zhao YJ, Moore RA, Huntsman DG, Birol I, Hirst M, Holt RA, Marra MA. Evolution of an adenocarcinoma in response to selection by targeted kinase inhibitors. Genome Biol. 2010 Aug 9;11(8):R82.

For Dr. Marra’s up-to-date publication list, please consult the following links

Publons: https://publons.com/researcher/2886868/marco-a-marra/

Google Scholar: http://tinyurl.com/y292j56m)