Stephen Robbins
Tel.: 514-340-8100 ext 27573
Or contact:

Voula Giannopoulos
Executive Assistant
514-340-8222 ext 25252
Stephen Robbins, PhD


  • Director, Lady Davis Institute
  • Professor, Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology, McGill University
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Oncology, University of Calgary
Major Research Activities

Our research program aims to understand the role of the innate immune system in tumorigenesis, metastasis and therapeutic resistance. We also have specific interest in how leukocytes are recruited to specific organs during an inflammatory response on how dampening inflammation can be applied clinically.

The specific research areas in the laboratory include:

  • To therapeutically target the glioma disease reservoirs, namely the brain tumor-initiating cells and the highly invasive cellular compartment. In this regard they have isolated glioma targeting peptides that cross the blood brain barrier and are currently being developed as a platform for imaging and therapeutic delivery.
  • To determine the role of the brain tumor microenvironment including microglia and macrophages in glioma progression and their contribution to therapeutic resistance.
  • Based on the fact that most patients die from metastases than from their primary tumour it is important to determine the molecular features of a cancer cell and the target organ that facilitate the metastatic process. We have focused on the vascular ‘addresses’ that allow for the homing of cancer cells to specific organs in the body with specific focus on the liver and lungs, two major sites for metastatic spread.
Recent Publications
Glioma-derived IL-33 orchestrates an inflammatory brain tumor microenvironment that accelerates glioma progression. De Boeck A, Ahn BY, D'Mello C, Lun X, Menon SV, Alshehri MM, Szulzewsky F, Shen Y, Khan L, Dang NH, Reichardt E, Goring KA, King J, Grisdale CJ, Grinshtein N, Hambardzumyan D, Reilly KM, Blough MD, Cairncross JG, Yong VW, Marra MA, Jones SJM, Kaplan DR, McCoy KD, Holland EC, Bose P, Chan JA, Robbins SM, Senger DL. Nat Commun. 2020 Oct 5;11(1):4997. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18569-4. PMID: 33020472.

Development of a peptide-based delivery platform for targeting malignant brain tumors. Rahn JJ, Lun X, Jorch SK, Hao X, Venugopal C, Vora P, Ahn BY, Babes L, Alshehri MM, Cairncross JG, Singh SK, Kubes P, Senger DL, Robbins SM. Biomaterials. 2020 Sep;252:120105. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2020.120105. Epub 2020 May 7. PMID: 32417652.

Dipeptidase-1 Is an Adhesion Receptor for Neutrophil Recruitment in Lungs and Liver. Choudhury SR, Babes L, Rahn JJ, Ahn BY, Goring KR, King JC, Lau A, Petri B, Hao X, Chojnacki AK, Thanabalasuriar A, McAvoy EF, Tabariès S, Schraeder C, Patel KD, Siegel PM, Kopciuk KA, Schriemer DC, Muruve DA, Kelly MM, Yipp BG, Kubes P, Robbins SM, Senger DL. Cell. 2019 Aug 22;178(5):1205-1221.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.07.017. PMID: 31442408.

Disulfiram when Combined with Copper Enhances the Therapeutic Effects of Temozolomide for the Treatment of Glioblastoma.  Lun X, Wells JC, Grinshtein N, King JC, Hao X, Dang NH, Wang X, Aman A, Uehling D, Datti A, Wrana JL, Easaw JC, Luchman A, Weiss S, Cairncross JG, Kaplan DR, Robbins SM, Senger DL. Clin Cancer Res. 2016 Aug 1;22(15):3860-75. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-15-1798. Epub 2016 Mar 22. PMID: 27006494.
The Robbins laboratory has had a long-standing interest in how extracellular signals are communicated to the cell to control such essential biological processes as the growth and differentiation of mammalian cells. They have been particularly interested in how this complex biochemical circuitry can go awry in the setting of cancer and how it can be targeted for therapeutic intervention.

With a greater understanding of the molecular drivers of tumor progression the Robbins laboratory are translating their findings using a wide range of pre-clinical models with the ultimate goal of testing them in the clinic to improve patient outcomes. Their specific focus is in the area of hard-to-treat cancers including 1.) brain tumors and 2.) advanced metastatic disease with a specific focus on organ-specific metastasis. Their studies have moved beyond the cancer cell per se and now include strategies to investigate how the tumor microenvironment fuels cancer cell proliferation and imparts therapeutic resistance to our current therapies.
Important Links

Stephen Robbins' profile at the Department of Oncology, McGill University

Stephen Robbins' profile at the Department of Experimental Medicine, McGill University

Support research at the Lady Davis Institute - Jewish General Hospital