Picture of Behzad Toosi

Behzad Toosi Allard Research Chair in Oncology | Assistant Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences

Research Area(s)

  • Oncology

Academic Credentials

  • DVM, Ferdowski University of Mashad, Iran, 2002
  • PhD, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, 2009
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, University of Saskatchewan, 2011 
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, University of Saskatchewan, 2015

Research Interests

Cancer is a serious health challenge in both humans and companion animals. Naturally occurring tumours that develop in companion animals are unfortunate for both the animal and the pet owner, but they represent an overlooked opportunity to facilitate the search and discovery of new diagnostics and therapies for human malignancies.

As the WCVM's Allard Research Chair in Oncology, Dr. Toosi is establishing an interdisciplinary and collaborative research group — the Comparative Oncology Research Group (CORG). This research group will focus on the study of cancer in humans and companion animals.

Testing of new therapies in animal models that better represent human disease, such as naturally occurring tumours in pet dogs, has the capacity to reduce the time for clinical development of new pharmaceutical agents for human cancer therapy. At the same time, there exists an opportunity to bring the novel, advanced diagnostics and therapeutics from human drug discovery and pharmaceutical research to veterinary medicine.

These significant mutual benefits for both humans and companion animals demand an innovative, comparative oncology approach to translational cancer research. Dr. Toosi's lab studies similarities between human and canine cancers in terms of the following: 

  • biology and symptoms of the disease
  • response to treatment
  • similarity of target molecule function in the disease model

Initial research models include lymphoma, osteosarcoma, melanoma and mammary carcinoma. Dr. Toosi's research team is investigating the presence and function of Eph receptor tyrosine kinases in these malignancies using both in vitro and in vivo models.

Publications

Parameswaran S, Vizeacoumar FS, Kalyanasundaram Bhanumathy K, Qin F, Islam MF, Toosi BM, Cunningham CE, Mousseau DD, Uppalapati MC, Stirling PC, Wu Y, Bonham K, Freywald A, Li H, Vizeacoumar FJ1. (2019). Molecular characterization of an MLL1 fusion and its role in chromosomal instability. Molecular Oncology. 13(2): 422-440.

Toosi BM, El Zawily A, Truitt L, Shannon M, Allonby O, Babu M, DeCoteau J, Mousseau D, Ali M, Freywald T, Gall A, Vizeacoumar FS, Kirzinger MW, Geyer CR, Anderson DH, Kim T, Welm AL, Siegel P, Vizeacoumar FJ, Kusalik A, Freywald A. (2018). EPHB6 augments both development and drug sensitivity of triple-negative breast cancer tumours. Oncogene. 37(30): 4073-4093.

Hassan A, Arnold BM, Caine S, Toosi BM, Verge VMK, Muir GD,. (2018). Acute intermittent hypoxia and rehabilitative training following cervical spinal injury alters neuronal hypoxia- and plasticity-associated protein expression. PLos One. 13(5): e0197486.

Auslander N, Cunningham CE, Toosi BM, McEwen EJ, Yizhak K, Vizeacoumar FS, Parameswaran S, Gonen N, Freywald T, Bhanumathy KK, Freywald A, Vizeacoumar FJ, Ruppin E. (2017). An integrated computational and experimental study uncovers FUT9 as a metabolic driver of colorectal cancer. Molecular Systems Biology. 13(12): 956.

El Zawily A, McEwen E, Toosi B, Vizeacoumar FS, Freywald T, Vizeacoumar FJ, Freywald A. (2017). The EphB6 receptor is overexpressed in pediatric T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and increases its sensitivity to doxorubicin treatment. Scientific Reports. 7(1): 14767.

El Zawily AM, Toosi BM, Freywald T, Indukuri VV, Vizeacoumar FJ, Leary SC, Freywald A. (2016). The intrinsically kinase-inactive EPHB6 receptor predisposes cancer cells to DR5-induced apoptosis by promoting mitochondrial fragmentation. Oncotarget. 7(47): 77865-77877.