Ontario Genomics-CANSSI Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowship in Genome Data Science - Award Recipient: Ander Díaz-Navarro

Ontario Genomics-CANSSI Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowship in Genome Data Science - Ander Diaz-Navarro

Ontario Genomics and CANSSI Ontario (OG-CO) are pleased to announce Dr. Ander Díaz-Navarro as the recipient of one of two Ontario Genomics-CANSSI Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowships in Genome Data Science.

Dr. Ander Díaz-Navarro is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto Department of Molecular Genetics working with Drs. Lincoln Stein and Bo Wang.

Dr. Díaz-Navarro began his research career in 2013 while pursuing his BSc (2016) in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of the Basque Country. As an undergraduate student, he focused on the role of microRNAs in chronic lymphocytic leukemia under the supervision of Dr. Africa García-Orad. The knowledge acquired about this disease and non-coding elements allowed him to join Dr. Xose S. Puente’s laboratory at the University of Oviedo, where he received his MSc (2017) and PhD (2022) in Biomedicine and Molecular Oncology.

During his PhD, Ander studied the role of non-coding mutations in cancer, particularly in hematological neoplasms. He gained expertise in molecular and cellular biology techniques, as well as bioinformatics, with a focus on the analysis of whole genome, exome, and RNA sequencing data. This allowed him to co-author a paper published in Nature, which discovered and validated the effect of a recurrent mutation in the nuclear small RNA U1 in various cancer types. In addition, he has collaborated with international groups on large-scale genomic analysis, resulting in the publication of several papers in high-impact journals.

The experience gained from analyzing whole genome and exome sequencing data led Dr. Díaz-Navarro to develop a fast and low-computational tool for identifying somatic mutations using machine learning algorithms. Taking advantage of this variant caller, he is working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oviedo developing pipelines to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice, with the goal of promoting personalized diagnoses for cancer patients on a routine basis.

Besides his research career, Dr. Díaz-Navarro enjoys sharing knowledge with other researchers. Thus, he has co-supervised a master’s thesis and promotes the use of R among undergraduate students and other scientists by giving training courses through a non-profit organization.

OG-CO PDF Project Synopsis

To better identify variations within and between genomic datasets, a reliable control or ‘normal’ dataset is required for comparison. However, this can prove challenging for poorly annotated genomes found in rare diseases, cancer, and non-human species with limited data availability, making it difficult to differentiate real signals from noise during analysis. To address this issue, Dr. Díaz-Navarro plans to leverage deep learning techniques to generate ‘synthetic genomes’ that can serve as baselines for more accurate and powerful diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. This approach will initially be applied to cancer research and has the potential to significantly improve our ability to analyze and interpret genomic data in a wide range of settings.


The Ontario Genomics-CANSSI Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowship in Genome Data Science was created to support research projects that deepen our understanding of genomic epidemiology of infectious disease, using genomics for pathogen surveillance or host-virus genetic interaction by providing salary support for up to two years for an early career investigator pursuing research in the areas of statistical genetics or genetic epidemiology.

Established in 2000, Ontario Genomics is a not-for-profit organization leading the application of genomics-based solutions to drive economic growth, improved quality of life, and global leadership for Ontario. As part of its strategic vision, Ontario Genomics (OG) is dedicated to supporting the development of educational resources that demonstrate how genomics plays a vital role to address key challenges in our society. Ontario Genomics also plays a role in advancing genomics projects and programs across the province by supporting the development of proposals, helping researchers access diverse funding sources, and finding the right industry partners to take this research out of the lab to apply it to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since its inception, Ontario Genomics has raised more than $1.27 billion for genomics applied research in Ontario and directly supported more than 9,100 trainees and jobs. OG supports 110+ active projects, 500+ impactful partnerships and has secured $1.34 billion in follow-on investments.

CANSSI Ontario is the Ontario Regional Centre of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI). Its goal is to strengthen and enhance research and training in data science by developing programs that promote interdisciplinary research and enable multidisciplinary collaborations.

OG-CO Fellowship News