Histones carry epigenetic information and organize chromatin. Alan's research focuses on gain-of-function histone mutations which have recently been identified as powerful drivers of certain types of cancer, particularly in children. Because histones are among the most conserved proteins throughout eukaryotes, the same mutations that cause cancer in humans can be created and studied in various model organisms. By leveraging the unique advantages of C. elegans genetics, Alan is developing a screening system to test millions of genetic alterations that modulate the effect of cancer-associated histone mutations.



Alan obtained his BSc in Immunology from the University of Toronto, and his PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University. Alan's main research interest lies in the basic mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation, and how such mechanisms are disrupted in disease states. Outside of the lab, Alan enjoys playing cello, board games, and basketball.

Selected Publications

  1. Jiao AL, Perales R, Umbreit NT, Haswell JR, Piper ME, Adams BD, Pellman D, Kennedy S, Slack FJ. Human nuclear RNAi-defective 2 (NRDE2) is an essential RNA splicing factor. RNA 25: 352–363 (2019)
  2. Anastasiadou E, Stroopinsky D, Pyzer A, Cipitelli C, Jiao AL, Severa M, Kempkes B, Coccia E, Uccini S, Avigan D, Faggioni A, Trivedi P*, Slack FJ*. Epstein-Barr virus-encoded EBNA2 alters immune checkpoint PD-L1 expression by downregulating miR-34a in B cell lymphomas. * co-corresponding authors. Leukemia. 33:132-147 (2019)
  3. Jiao AL, Foster DJ, Dixon J, Slack FJ. lin-4 and the NRDE pathway are required to activate a transgenic lin-4 reporter but not the endogenous lin-4 locus in C. elegans. PLOS One. 13(1): e0190766. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190766 (2018)
  4. Pyzer A, Stroopinsky D, Rosenblatt J, Anastasiadou E, Rajabi H, Washington A, Tagde A, Chu JH, Coll M, Cole L, Palmer K, Leaf RK, Nahas M, Apel A, Jain S, McMasters M, Jiao AL, Mendez L, Arnason J, Raby BA, Slack FJ, Kufe D, Avigan D. MUC1 inhibition leads to decrease in PD-L1 levels via up-regulation of miRNAs. Leukemia. 31:2780-2790 (2017)
  5. Turner MJ*, Jiao AL*, Slack FJ. Autoregulation of lin-4 microRNA transcription by RNA activation (RNAa) in C. elegans. Cell Cycle. 13(5):772-81 (2014) *co-first author
  6. Jiao AL, Slack FJ. RNA-mediated gene activation. Epigenetics. 9:27-36 (2013)
  7. Jiao AL, Slack FJ. MicroRNAs micromanage themselves. Circulation Research. 111:1395-7 (2012)
  8. Ramani AK, Chuluunbaatar T, Verster AJ, Na H, Vu V, Pelte N, Wannissorn N, Jiao AL, Fraser AG. The majority of animal genes are required for wild-type fitness. Cell. 148:792-802 (2012)