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    Canada Research Chair

  • James Davie
  • Distinguished professor

    Max Rady College of Medicine
    Biochemistry and Medical Genetics
    Room 333A  – Basic Medical Sciences Building
    745 Bannatyne Avenue
    University of Manitoba
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 0J9

    Phone: 204-272-3174

Research theme

  • Epigenetics

Research interests

  • Epigenetics
  • Chromatin structure and function
  • Epigenetic regulation of gene expression in normal and disease states
  • Chromatin structure and function
  • Histone modifications and enzymes catalyzing the modification.


  • Breast cancer
  • Chromatin biology
  • Chromatin modifying enzymes
  • Colorectal cancer
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Histone modifications
  • Nuclear matrix proteins

Research affiliations

Research summary

There is an increasing awareness of the role of chromatin structure (epigenetics) in the regulation of gene expression and in the genesis or suppression of cancer. Dr. Davie’s research program investigates the role of the enzymes that remodel chromatin structure and function. A component of this research is to understand the mechanisms by which a cell transmits signals from its surface to its nuclear interior to effect changes in gene expression. Signal transduction events impact on histone modifications, which in turn remodel chromatin structure and enable gene expression.


Dr. Jim Davie is a recognized leader in chromatin, a rapidly expanding field now known as epigenetics. His several seminal findings resulted in knowledge translation towards improving human health.

His early studies set the foundation for development of histone deacetylase inhibitor drugs, which are approved therapeutics for hematologic malignancies and in clinical trials for a broad range of human disorders.

He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers that have been cited more than 22,000 times.

In recognition of Dr. Davie’s seminal contributions in epigenetics, he was inducted as a fellow in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and in the Royal Society of Canada, and awarded the title of Distinguished Professor.

Many of his trainees have landed fellowships in outstanding laboratories at first-tier institutions. His trainees were awarded distinguished fellowships and awards for their work in his laboratory.  Twice, his trainees won the Drewry Memorial Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, the highest honor given to a student in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. His doctoral trainees won the (former) Faculty of Medicine Graduate Student Award (Merck Frost Inc. Award, MMSF) eight times, University of Manitoba Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award two times, and the University of Manitoba Governor General's medal for outstanding achievement at the graduate level two times (master's and doctoral classifications).

In addition to his research and mentorship activities, he has contributed significantly to university administration and to scientific knowledge dissemination through his service as editor-in-chief and associate editor on many journals.

He is the founder of the Manitoba Epigenetics Network and represents the epigenetic interests of prairie researchers through his membership on the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium Executive.

He has promoted Canadian science through his many years of service with the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (CSMB) and is currently the general secretary of CSMB.


  • PhD, biochemistry, University of British Columbia (1979)
  • Bachelor of science (hons. Biochemistry), University of British Columbia (1975)

Selected awards

  • Distinguished professor, University of Manitoba (2019)
  • Canada Research Chair in Chromatin Dynamics, Tier I (2004-2018)
  • Canadians for Health Research, Researcher of the Month (April 2017)
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (2015)
  • Fellow, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (2015)
  • The University of Manitoba Health Science’s Graduate Students’ Association Award for Distinction in Mentorship (2006)

Contact us

Biochemistry and Medical Genetics
Room 336 Basic Medical Sciences Building
745 Bannatyne Avenue
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9 Canada