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Adam D. Durbin, MD, PhD
Adam D. Durbin, MD, PhD

Adam D. Durbin, MD, PhD

Assistant Member, St. Jude Faculty




BSc (Biology) - York University, Toronto, ON
PhD (Medical Biophysics) - University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
MD - University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
Internship and Residency (General Pediatrics) - Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
Clinical/Postdoctoral Fellowship (Pediatric Hematology/Oncology) - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA

Honors & Awards 

  • 2023  Hyundai Hope on Wheels Scholar
  • 2022  V Foundation Scholar
  • 2022  American Society for Clinical Investigation Young Physician-Scientist Award
  • 2020  William H. Guy Forbeck Fellow
  • 2020-2025  NIH/NCI Clinical Scientist Career Development Award (K08)
  • 2019  CureSearch Young Investigator Award in Pediatric Oncology Drug Development
  • 2018  Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Fellow
  • 2018  Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Young Investigator Award
  • 2018  Rally Foundation Young Investigator Award
  • 2018  American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award
  • 2017  AACR Loxo-Oncology Scholar-In Training Award
  • 2009  Outstanding Trainee Award, Sickkids Research Institute
  • 2004-2010  Canadian Institutes of Health Research M.D./Ph.D. Fellowship

Research Interests

  • Epigenetic and transcriptional regulation of high-risk pediatric cancers, including neuroblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Chemical biology and functional genomic perturbation of cancer systems biology
  • Drug discovery for pediatric high-risk tumors
  • Pathogenesis and modeling of rare tumors

Selected Publications

Shendy NAM, Zimmerman MW, Abraham BJ, Durbin AD. Intrinsic transcriptional heterogeneity in neuroblastoma guides mechanistic and therapeutic insights. Cell Rep Med May 17;3(5):100632, 2022. doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100632. PMID: 35584622; PMCID: PMC9133465

Hsu JY, Danis E, Nance S, O’Brien J, Wessells V, Goodspeed A, Talbot J, Amacher S, Jedlicka P, Black J, Costello J, Durbin AD, Artinger K#, Ford H#. SIX1 is a master transcription factor controlling the rhabdomyosarcoma undifferentiated state. Cell Reports 38(5):110323, 2022.

Dharia NV, Kugener G, Guenther LM, Malone CF, Durbin AD, Hong AL, Howard TP, Bandopadhyay P, Wechsler CS, Fung I, Warren AC, Krill-Burger JM, Paolella BR, McFarland JM, Boehm JS, Hahn WC, Roberts CWM, Tsherniak A, Golub TR, Vazquez F, Stegmaier K. A first-generation pediatric dependency map. Nat Genetics 53(4):529-538, 2021.

Ohguchi H#, Mark PMC#, Wang T#, Gryder BE#, Ogiya D, Zhang X, Li D, Masuda T, Johansson C, Wimalasena V, Hino S, Usuki S, Kawano Y, Samur MK, Tai Y, Munshi NC, Matsuoka M, Ohtsuki S, Nakao M, Minami T, Oppermann U, Durbin AD, Anderson KC*, Hideshima T*, Qi J*. Lysine demethylase 5A is a vulnerability of MYC driven transcription in multiple myeloma. Blood Cancer Discovery 2(4):370-387, 2021.

Zimmerman MW, Durbin AD, He S, Oppel F, Shi H, Tao T, Li Z, Berezovskaya A, Liu Y, Zhang J, Young RA, Abraham BJ, Look AT. Retinoic acid rewires the adrenergic core regulatory circuitry of childhood neuroblastoma. Science Advances 7(43):eabe0834. 2021.

De Wyn J, Zimmerman MW, Weichert-Leahey N, Nunes C, Cheung BB, Abraham BJ, Beckers A, Volders PJ, Decaesteker B, Carter DR, Look AT, De Preter K, Van Loocke W, Marshall GM, Durbin AD, Speleman F, Durinck K. Meis2 is an adrenergic core regulatory transcription factor involved in early initiation of TH-MYCN-driven neuroblastoma formation. Cancers 13(19):4783, 2021.

Durbin AD#, Wang T, Wimalasena VK, Zimmerman MW, Li D, Dharia NV, Mariani L, Shendy NAM, Nance S, Patel AG, Shao Y, Mundada M, Maxham L, Park PMC, Sigua LH, Morita K, Saur Conway A, Robichaud AL, Perez-Atayde AR, Bikowitz MJ, Quinn TR, Wiest OG, Easton J, Schonbrunn E, Bulyk ML, Abraham BJ, Stegmaier K#, Look AT#, Qi J#Cancer Discovery Nov 12:candisc.0385.2021. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0385.

Shi H*, Tao T*, Durbin AD, Zimmerman WM, Zhu S, Young RA, Look AT. ARID1A controls neuroblastoma pathogenesis by directing BAF complex members. Science Advances (6)29:eaaz3440, 2020.

Tao T, Shi H, Perez-Atayde AR, London W, Durbin AD#, Look AT#. Ganglioneuroma is driven by activated AKT and can be therapeutically targeted with mTORC1 inhibitors. The Journal of Experimental Medicine 217(10):e20191871, 2020. # - co-corresponding author

Tao T*, Shi H*, Zimmerman MW, Abraham BJ, Durbin AD, Ross KN, Powers JT, Missios P, Perez-Atayde AR, Zhu S, Young RA, Daley GQ, Look AT. LIN28B promotes neuroblastoma pathogenesis as a transcription factor. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 117(28):16516-16526, 2020.

Wimalasena V, Wang T, Sigua L, Durbin AD#, Qi J#. Using Chemical Epigenetics to Target Cancer. Molecular Cell 78(6):1086-1095, 2020. # - co-corresponding author

Wang L*, Tan TK*, Durbin AD, Zimmerman MW, Abraham BJ, Tan SH, Ngoc P, Weichert-Leahey N, Akahane K, Lawton LN, Rokita J, Maris J, Young RA, Look AT, Sanda T. ASCL1 is activated by LMO1 and MYCN as a core regulatory circuitry member in neuroblastoma. Nature Communications 10(1), 5622, 2019.

Ki DH, Durbin AD, Oppel F, Look AT. Co-inhibition of topoisomerase I and mTOR is synergistic and leads to apoptosis in NF1-associated malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. Oncogene 38(39):6585-6598, 2019.

Durbin AD*, Zimmerman MW*, Dharia N*, Abraham BJ, Balboni-Iniguez A, Weichert-Leahey N, He S, Krill-Burger JM, Root DE, Vazquez F, Tsherniak A, Hahn WC, Golub TR, Young RA, Look AT, Stegmaier K. Selective gene dependencies in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma include the core transcriptional regulatory circuitry. Nature Genetics 50:1240-1246, 2018. 

Zimmerman MW*, Liu Y*, He S, Durbin AD, Abraham BJ, Easton J, Shao J, Xu B, Zhu S, Zhang X, Weichert-Leahey N, Young R, Zhang J, Look AT. MYC activation through enhancer hijacking or focal enhancer amplification drives a subset of high-risk pediatric neuroblastoma. Cancer Discovery 8(3):320-335, 2018.

Ignatius MS, Lobbardi R, Hayes M, Chen E, McCarthy K, Motala Z, Durbin AD, Molodtsov A, Reeder S, Jin A, Beleyea B, Bhere D, Alexander MS, Shah K, Keller C, Linardic C, Nielsen PG, Malkin D, Khan J, Langenau DM. The Notch1/Snail1/MEF2C pathway regulates growth and self-renewal in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. Cell Reports 19:2304-2318, 2017.

Durbin AD, Ki DH, He S, Look AT. Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumors. Adv Exp Med Biol 916:495-530, 2016.

Wood AC*, Oldridge D*, Weichert N, Crimmins I, Sussman R, Winter C, McDaniel LD, Zhu S, Durbin AD, Abraham BJ, Anders L, Tian L, Wei JS, Khan J, Bramlett K, Rahman N, Capasso M, Young RA, Hakonarson H, Diskin SJ, Look AT, Maris JM. Genetic Predisposition to Neuroblastoma mediated by a single nucleotide polymorphism within a LMO1 oncogene super-enhancer element. Nature 528(7582):418-21, 2015.

Mansour MR, Abraham BJ, Anders L, Berezovskaya A, Gutierrez A, Durbin AD, Etchin J, Lawton L, Sallan SE, Silverman LB, Loh ML, Hunger SP, Sanda T, Young RA, Look AT. An oncogenic super-enhancer formed through somatic mutation of a Noncoding Intergenic Element. Science 346(6215):1373-1377, 2014.

Durbin AD, Pasic I, Hannigan GE, Malkin D. The oncogenic and growth-suppressive functions of the integrin-linked kinase are distinguished by JNK1 expression in human cancer cells. Cell Cycle 9(10):1951-1959, 2010.

Pasic I, Shlien A, Durbin AD, Stavropoulos DJ, Baskin B, Ray PN, Novokmet A, Malkin D. Recurrent Focal Copy-Number Changes and Loss-Of-Heterozygosity Implicate Two Non-Coding RNAs and One Tumor-Suppressor Gene at Chromosome 3q13.31 in Osteosarcoma. Cancer Research 70(1):160-171, 2010.

Durbin AD, Hannigan GE, Malkin D. Oncogenic ILK, tumor suppression, and all that JNK. Cell Cycle 8(24):4060-4066, 2009.

Durbin AD, Somers GR, Forrester M, Pienkowska M, Hannigan GE, Malkin D. JNK1 determines the oncogenic or tumor-suppressive activity of the integrin-linked kinase in human rhabdomyosarcoma. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 119(6):1558-70, 2009.

Makawita S, Ho M, Durbin AD, Thorner P, Malkin D, Somers GR. Expression of Insulin-like Growth Factor Pathway Proteins in Rhabdomyosarcoma: IGF-2 Expression is Associated with Translocation-Negative Tumors. Pediatric and Developmental Pathology 12(2):127-35, 2009.

Greenberg JA, Somme S, Russnes HE, Durbin AD, Malkin D. The estrogen receptor pathway in rhabdomyosarcoma: a role for estrogen receptor-beta in proliferation and response to the anti-estrogen 4’OH-tamoxifen. Cancer Research 68(9):3476-3485, 2008.

Strahm B*, Durbin AD*, Sexsmith E, Malkin D. The CXCR4-SDF1a axis is a critical mediator of rhabdomyosarcoma metastatic signaling induced by bone marrow stroma. Clinical and Experimental Metastasis 25(1):1-10, 2008.

Durbin AD, Nadir N, Rosenthal A, Gotlieb AI. Nitric oxide promotes in vitro interstitial cell heart valve repair. Cardiovascular Pathology 14(1):12-18, 2005.

Durbin AD, Gotlieb AI. Advances towards understanding heart valve response to injury. Cardiovascular Pathology 11:69-77, 2002.

Last update: March 2023