• Maxwell, Christopher Alan

    Investigator, Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program, BC Children's Hospital
    Co-Lead, Childhood Cancer & Blood Research Group, BC Children’s Hospital

    Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia
    Scientist, Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program

    Degrees / Designations
    Primary Area of Research
    Childhood Diseases
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    604-875-2000 ext. 4691
    Lab Phone
    Mailing Address

    BC Children's Hospital Research Institute
    Room 3086
    950 West 28th Avenue
    Vancouver, BC V5Z 4H4

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Cell division, cell polarity, cell differentiation
    • Childhood cancer
    • Hereditary cancer
    • Cancer predisposition syndromes

    We all arose from one fertilized egg cell; in the precise and correct ratios, ~50 trillion cells arose from the division of one primitive cell. This requires incredible balance- too many divisions of the same clone equals cancer. The division of primitive cells that reside in human tissues must also strike this balance. By studying how molecules work together during the division of these cells, my group hopes to better detect, monitor, and treat the childhood and hereditary cancers that arise as a result of too many cell divisions and inflict 1,400 kids and 2,200 young adults each year in Canada.

    Current Projects

    The objectives for my research program are to more completely understand cell division at a molecular level and apply that knowledge to the study of cells that maintain the growth and development of the human brain and breast. The Maxwell lab will learn how cell division is altered in childhood and hereditary cancers and develop treatments that re-establish a correct balance. We focus on a small set of key genes and study how their products are involved in human development and cancer using a variety of systems, including cells that grow indefinitely in the lab, mice, flies, and human tissues from both healthy and diseased individuals. Through a larger integrated research network, which includes collaborations in Canada and abroad, our research program will apply what we learn about the process of cell division towards the better understanding and treatment of cancers that occur in kids and families.

    Selected Publications

    For the latest publications, please visit Dr. Maxwell’s ORCID profile.

    LR Ferguson, H Chen, AR Collins, M Connell, […], and CA Maxwell#. (2015) Genomic instability in human cancer: molecular insights and opportunities for therapeutic attack and prevention through diet and nutrition. Seminars in Cancer Biology. PMID: 25869442.

    C Maxwell and C Roskelley (Editors) (2015) Genomic instability and cancer metastasis: Mechanisms, emerging themes, and novel therapeutic strategies. series: Cancer Metastasis- Biology and Treatment, 20, Springer Sciences and Business Media Dordrecht 

    H Chen, C Maxwell, and M Connell. (2015) The generation, detection, and prevention of genomic instability during cancer progression and metastasis. In: Genomic Instability and Cancer Metastasis: Mechanisms, emerging themes, and novel therapeutic strategies. C Maxwell and C Roskelley (Editors), series: Cancer Metastasis- Biology and Treatment, 20, Springer Sciences and Business Media Dordrecht 

    I Blanco, et al. (2015) Assessing associations between the AURKA-HMMR-TPX2-TUBG1 functional module and breast cancer risk in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. PLoS One 10(4):e0120020. PMID: 25830658.

    H Chen, P Mohan, MC Fleisch, J Jiang, LM Pilarski, D Niederarcher, CJ Lim, and CA Maxwell. (2014) Spatial regulation of Aurora A activity during mitotic spindle assembly requires RHAMM to correctly localize TPX2. Cell Cycle 13(14): 2248-61. PMID: 24875404.

    I Ferrer*, P Mohan*, H Chen, J Castellsague, L Gómez-Baldó, M Carmona, N García, H Aguilar, J Jiang, M Skowron, M Nellist, I Ampuero, A Russi, C Lázaro, CA Maxwell#, and MA Pujana#. (2014) Tubers from patients with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex are characterized by changes in microtubule nucleation capacity through ROCK2 signaling.  Journal of Pathology 233(3): 247-57. PMID: 24604753.

    AH Davies, KM Reipas, A Fotovati, MR Pambid, A Stratford, K Hu, C Maxwell, G Mills, and SE Dunn. (2014) YB1 promotes tumor-initiation through chromatin remodeling leading to the development of basal-like breast cancer. Stem Cells 32(6):1437-50. PMID: 24648416.

    J Jiang, P Mohan, and CA Maxwell. (2013) The cytoskeletal protein RHAMM and ERK1/2 activity maintain the pluripotency of murine embryonic stem cells. PLoS One 8(9): e73548. PMID: 24019927.

    P Mohan, J Castellsague, J Jiang, K Allen, H Chen, O Nemirovsky, M Spyra, K Hu, L Kluwe, MA Pujana, A Villanueva, VF Mautner, JJ Keats, SE Dunn, C Lazaro, and CA Maxwell. (2013) Genomic imbalance of HMMR/RHAMM regulates the sensitivity and response of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour cells to aurora kinase inhibition. Oncotarget 4(1):80-93. PMID: 23328114.

    CA Maxwell#, […] H Chen, GJR Evans, P Mohan, […] and MA Pujana#. (2011) Interplay between BRCA1 and RHAMM regulates epithelial apicobasal polarization and may influence risk of breast cancer. PLoS Biology 9(11):e1001199. PMID: 22110403.

    AH Davies, I Barrett, MR Pambid, K Hu, AL Stratford, S Freeman, IM Berquin, S Pelech, P Hieter, C Maxwell, and SE Dunn. (2011) YB-1 evokes susceptibility to cancer through cytokinesis failure, mitotic dys-function and HER2 amplification. Oncogene 30, 3649-60. PMID: 21423216.


    The Maxwell lab is a member of the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research program. Since 2010, the Maxwell lab has been awarded research funding from the following organizations:

    Avon Foundation, BC Knowledge Development Fund, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF)- BY/Yukon, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Children’s Tumor Foundation, Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Foundation (MCCCF), MITACS, National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and SickKids Foundation.

    We are very grateful for their support.

    Honours & Awards

    2014-2019: New Investigator, NIC category, CIHR
    2010-2013: New Investigator research award in Child & Youth Health, CIHR-SickKids Foundation
    2007-2009: Beatriu de Pinos fellowship, Agencia de Gestio d’Ajuts Universitaris I de Recerca
    2006-2007: Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Multidisciplinary Fellowship
    2002-2004: NSERC Post Graduate Scholarship B
    2002-2004: Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Studentship
    1999-2004: Endowed Ph.D. Scholarship, Department of Oncology, University of Alberta

    Awards to students
    2015-2017: CBCF fellowship – Tony Chu
    2014-2015: MCCCF postdoctoral fellowship – Marisa Connell
    2014-2015: MCCCF studentship – Helen Chen
    2013: CFRI MSc studentship- Oksana Nemirovsky
    2012-2014: CFRI PhD studentship – Helen Chen
    2012: CIHR MSc studentship- Oksana Nemirovsky

    Research Group Members

    Jihong Jiang - Research Assistant
    Marisa Connell- Postdoctoral Fellow
    Helen Chen - Graduate Student
    Tony Chu- Graduate Student
    Leo (Zhengcheng) He - Graduate Student
    Oksana Nemirovsky (MSc., alumna: 2012-14)
    Pooja Mohan (MSc., alumna: 2010-13)