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Josh Waterfall joins the Institut Curie

Josh Waterfall joined Institut Curie (Paris site) in early 2017 to set up a new team attached both to the SiRIC (Integrated Cancer Research Site) and Unit U830 – Genetics and Biology of Cancers; domain 3 (Integrative Tumour Biology, Immunology and Environment) of the Research Centre.

The goal of my lab will be twofold: to elucidate the mechanisms by which (mis)regulation of genomic processes drives diverse cancers and to apply that knowledge to inform fundamental research and therapy development”, explains Josh Waterfall. This young American researcher was working until last year in the Genetics Branch of the National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, United States) in the laboratory of Paul S. Meltzer, pediatrician and researcher, and a leader in the application of genomics to cancer research.

I firmly believe that the best approach to understanding common, complex biological and pathogenic processes is to study the rare patients and cancers where these mechanisms are particularly accentuated. This approach necessarily invites collaboration with clinicians, scientists conducting basic research and those involved in creating novel therapies. The clinical collaborations possible at Institut Curie are unique, and overlap perfectly with my research interests. Similarly, the genomics, chromatin, and immunology communities are outstanding as well and I am excited to contribute” continues this expert on genetic mechanisms driving tumors such as osteosarcoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) and a form of leukemia.

The “IFGC : Integrative functional genomics of cancer” team, located on the 2d floor of 26 rue d’Ulm, is attached both to the SiRIC (Integrated Cancer Research Site) and Unit U830 – Genetics and Biology of Cancers; directed by Olivier Delattre, and focuses on three themes.

  • Project 1: Translational opportunities in ATRX/DAXX deficient tumors These two genes are mutated in several forms of cancer and he is investigating non-telomeric effects as well as therapeutic opportunities in this context. His work has focused on the effect of these mutations in osteosarcoma in particular and he is interested in extending these findings to other tumor types.
  • Project 2: Interaction of Core Metabolism and Chromatin Regulation Another common feature of many types of cancer is the occurrence of a subset of tumors whose genome may be roughly described as “hyper-­‐methylated”.
  • Project 3: Developing Genomic Tools for Unique Cancers As a fundamentally collaborative computational biologist, he is enthusiastic about establishing strong partnerships with colleagues. “In my experience, my strong background in statistics and computational methods as well as genome regulation can not only facilitate numerous projects involving high throughput biological data, but can also provide new insights into the underlying biology.” declares Josh Waterfall.

This young scientist is actively recruiting group members to develop his team, which will collaborate with clinical teams to perform integrative genomic characterization of the inherited genome, the tumor, and the immune response in unique patient populations such as those with cancer predisposition or early onset, or with exceptional therapeutic response. Such strong biological effects, though rare, are often driven by more clearly identifiable genetic mechanisms and more directly provide insights into fundamental biology. “By intensively studying such rare patients, we can more efficiently discover new fundamental biology, improve care for these typically understudied populations, and determine the role of these mechanisms in more common, complex populations”, concludes Josh Waterfall.

In short

  • 2017 arrival at Institut Curie Research Centre
  • 2010 Research Fellow then Senior Research Fellow, Genetics Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, USA); advisor Paul S. Meltzer.
  • 2006 Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University (Ithaca, New York, USA); advisor John T.Lis.
  • 2006 PhD; Cornell University (Physics) (Ithaca, New York, USA)
  • Since 2001, in charge of teachings
  • Over 20 scientific articles


The laboratory of the National Cancer Institute’s Genetics Branch


Josh Waterfall (joshua.waterfall@curie.fr)
Olivier Delattre (olivier.delattre@curie.fr)