Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Mak, Tak Wah
Location University of Toronto
Primary Field Immunology and Inflammation
Secondary Field Medical Genetics, Hematology and Oncology
 Election Citation
From Canada, Mak discovered the human T cell receptor genes and explained how the different types of T cells are created. He also made the pioneering discovery that a single gene from the Friend leukemia virus could induce acute myelogenous leukemia. More recently, he has isolated and analyzed the effect of key genes that regulate the immune system and suppress tumors, paving the way for future therapies.
 Research Interests
My laboratory is focused on understanding genetic and biochemical pathways that affect cell survival and apoptosis. We concentrate on two areas of intracellular signaling that are important for cell survival: signal transduction leading to the activation of the transcription factor NF kappa B and signal transduction that is affected by the tumor suppressor gene PTEN. To dissect these pathways and identify new genes in them we utilize multiple technologies, such as microarray gene profiling, genetic modifying screens, and expression cloning. Biochemical studies are also employed to confirm the identity of new genes and document relationships between known genes in these pathways. We generate mutant "knockout" mouse models to study the physiological roles of these novel genes. A recent success coming out of our analyses of the NF kappa B pathways as the identification of BCL10 as a gene involved in antigen-receptor-specific signaling leading to NF kappa B activation. We also recently demonstrated that the product of the DJ-1 gene might regulate PTEN mRNA and influence the function of this tumor-suppressive phosphatase. We hope that our findings will enrich the knowledge of these physiologically important pathways and allow the identification of mechanistic drug targets for the treatment of autoimmune disorders and malignancies.

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