Principal Investigator

Jianguo (Jeff) Xia, PhD. MD.

Institute of Parasitology, and Department of Animal Science
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Department of Human Genetics
Quantitative Life Sciences
McGill University, QC Canada
Email: jeff.xia [at]
Global Highly Cited Researchers (2019 - current)
McGill Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Emerging Researchers (2019)
Canada Research Chair Tier II (2017 - current)
Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship (2012 - 2014)
CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship (2012 - 2015)
Alberta Ingenuity PhD Scholarship (2007 - 2011)
Dr. Xia obtained his Medicine degree (5-yr program) from Peking University Health Science Center (Beijing, China). His MSc (University of Alberta) thesis was on characterization of immune genes from expressed sequence tags. This project led him to discover his passion and strengths in combining big data, cloud computing, statistics, machine learning and visualization to understand biology and disease. His PhD thesis (University of Alberta) was on bioinformatics and statistics for metabolomics. His postdoctoral research (University of British Columbia) was on integrating next-generation sequencing data and biological networks for systems biology. Dr. Xia joined McGill as an Assistant Professor in 2015. His current research focuses on integrating big data analytics and high-throughput 'omics technologies to understand gene-environment interactions, with applications to metabolomics, microbiomics, and exposomics.
Current Lab Members

Guangyan Zhou (Research Associate)

Guangyan received his Bachelor's degree from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill in 2015, followed by a PhD degree from the Xia Lab. His thesis work is on "web-based visual analytics for multi-omics data integration". Guangyan is broadly interested in multi-omics integration, network visual analytics, web technologies, and artificial intelligence.

Charles Viau (Research Associate)

Charles received his PhD from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University in 2015. His thesis elucidates the mechanism by which Gram-negative bacteria increase the production of their outer membrane (OM) in response to extracellular iron through signaling of the two-component system PmrA-PmrB. He showed that this leads, in turn, to increased resistance to antibiotics and OM vesicle production. He brings to the Xia lab expertise that includes broad knowledge of bacteriology and nematology techniques. He is setting up C. elegans models for toxicogenomics and investigations of host-gut microbiome interactions.

Zhiqiang Pang (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Zhiqiang graduated from Jilin University with his Bachelor's degree from School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2016) and Master's degree from the College of Basic Medical Sciences (2019). He then pursued PhD degree under supervision of Dr. Xia and has made significant contributions to LC-MS global metabolomics in terms of raw spectra processing, compound identificaiton and functional interpretation. His postdoc project aims to build upon his work on metabolomics with applications to exposomics, microbiomics and foodomics.

Yao Lu (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Yao received her Bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Engineering from China pharmaceutical University in 2011. She obtained her first Master’s degree in Microbiology and Biochemical Pharmacy from Peking Union Medical College in 2014, then the second Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Paris Descartes University in 2019. Her research interest is on functional annotation and integration of microbiome with metabolomics. Her postdoc project aims to expand her work on multi-omics with applications to include bulk & single-cell RNAseq, proteomics metabolomics and systems biology modeling to understand diabetes.

Janice Ou (PhD Candidate)

Janice received her Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacology from McGill University in May 2018. During her last year of undergraduate study, her research project was on “Determining the potential of a sperm-specific histone variant as a diagnostic for male infertility”. She joined our lab from May 2018 as a PhD student from the Kyoto-McGill International Program in Genomic Medicine. Her research interests are metabolome-genome wide association studies (mGWAS) and systems biology.

Fiona Hui (PhD Student)

Fiona obtained her BSc and MSc from the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at McGill University. She has worked on several research projects involving drug discovery, drug delivery and bioanalysis. Drawn by the rapid advancements in technology and computational power, Fiona is now pursuing a PhD in bioinformatics to study the dynamic interactions amongst metabolome, microbiome, and the surrounding environment.

Alyssa Nouar (MSc Student)

Alyssa received her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University. She joined the Xia lab in September 2023 for her Master’s degree. Her research interest is on C. elegans, metabolomics and host-microbiome interactions.

Yi Zhang (Graduate Research Trainee)

Yi obtained his Medicine degree (5-yr program) from Xi'an Jiaotong University (Xi'an, China). He then pursued his PhD at Tongji University (Shanghai, China), joining the Xia Lab as a Graduate Research Trainee in January 2024. He is interested in understanding the interactions among host genetics, metabolomics and microbiome using different data mining technologies such as Mendelian randomization, mediation analysis and multi-omics integration methods, with applications to musculoskeletal diseases and diabetes.

Farial Karimian (Lab Technician)

Farial received her Bachelor in Nutrition – Biochemistry from McGill University. She worked as a junior Scientist at the University of Minnesota in the Departments of Food Science, Agronomy and Plant Genetics. She also worked as lab assistant at McGill University in the Department of Animal Science. She is currently assisting Orcun with his work on understanding host native microbiome interaction using C. elegans, also assessing C. elegans response to oxidative stress using juglone assay.
Lab Alumni

Jessica Ewald (Postdoctoral Researcher, 07/2022 - 12/2023)

Jessica Ewald obtained her B.Sc. in Environmental Engineering from Harvard University in 2017. She started her PhD at McGill University in 2017 (supervisor: Nil Basu). The objective of her PhD research is to develop novel statistical methods and software for simplifying transcriptomics data into results that are meaningful to decision-makers in the field of environmental toxicology. She is more broadly interested in research in omics data science for translational application and decision making. Her postdoctoral research at Xia Lab is on multi-omics approaches (SNP genotyping, proteomics, bulk & single-cell RNAseq, metabolomics) to understand human islet variations in health and diabetes.

Lei Xu (Postdoctoral Researcher, 10/2022 - 12/2023)

Dr. Xu received his PhD in 2021 and worked as post-doctor until October 2022 in College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering, both at China Agricultural University (Beijing, China). He joined Xia Lab at McGill in Oct, 2022. His research interest is on LC-MS based suspect screening, metabolomics and bioinformatics.

Tânia Maria de Almeida Alves (Visiting Scientist, 10/2023 - 02/2024)

Dr. Alves is a senior researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), leading the Chemistry of Bioactive Natural Products research group at the FIOCRUZ Minas Research Institute, Belo Horizonte - MG, Brazil. She searches in science, art, music and literature ways to listen, understand and transform the world.

Le Chang (PhD Student, 04/2019 - 09/2023)

Le received her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science (with distinction) from the University of Alberta in 2015. She then obtained her Master’s degree in Biomedical Informatics from the School of Computing at Queen’s University in 2019. Her research interests are on non-coding RNAs, metabolism and aging.

Tanisha Shiri (MSc Student, 2021 - 2023)

Tanisha received her Bachelor of Engineering degree in Biotechnology from KLE College of Engineering and Technology (VTU), Belgaum, India (2018). After her Bachelor’s, she interned in the Mammalian Cell Culture lab of Biocon, a biopharma company. She then completed her Biotechnology Program from McGill (2020). She is interested in metabolomics, microbiome and bioinformatics.

Dana Praslickova (Research Associate)

Dr. Praslickova received her MSc. degree from Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, Slovakia, EU, her thesis focused on zoonotic parasitic diseases. During her PhD. at Department of Animal Science, McGill University, Dana studied genetic variation influencing resistance to Marek`s Disease. As a postdoctoral fellow at RI-MUHC, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Montreal, QC and Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, she focused on genetic variance during the development of cardiovascular diseases and evaluation of FABP as a risk factor in gallstone formation . Her research interest is on real time sequencing using nanopore technology, and stable isotope-labeling studies in metabolomics

Tianyi (Tim) Yang (Undergraduate Student)

Tim is an BSc student at McGill majoring in Statistics (Honour) and minoring in Computer Science. His research interests are statistical computing, informatics, intelligent platform design, and BCI. His research project is on developing a web-based intelligent environment using a virtual agent, information and data sharing platforms, and data transferring tools.

Tianze (Tom) Yang (Undergraduate Student)

Tom is a BSc student at McGill studying Honor Statistics and minoring in Computer Science. His research interests are applied statistics, big data analysis, ML, informatics, and human computer interface (including brain computer interface). His research project is on building intelligent platforms for omics data analysis.

Xue Gu (Research Associate, 10/2019 - 12/2022)

Dr. Xue received her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Fudan University (Shanghai, China) in 2006. After graduation, she joined School of Pharmacy in Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Shanghai, China) as university lecturer from 2006 to 2014. She mainly engaged in the research of developing novel nano- or micro separation technologies coupled with mass spectrometry for pharmaceutical and biological analysis. She joined McGill as Research Associate in 2019 to explore UPLC-MS-centered analytical pipelines for untargeted or targeted metabolomics study.

Joseph O'Brien (Software Engineer, 01/2021 - 03/2022))

Joseph O'Brien finished his Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Chemistry at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI, USA) in 2018 winning the Jack Tsao award for academic performance in Mathematics and the Wilfrid Heller award for Physical Chemistry. He performed a computational study to elucidate the mechanism of ph-dependent luminescence decay on a di-Eu complex. He finished his M.S. in Computational Science and Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA, USA) with a thesis describing algorithms that reduce time and memory costs of computational kernels in quantum chemistry and their implementation in open-source software.

Orcun Hacariz (PhD Student, 09/2017 - 03/2022)

Orçun graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ankara University, with a degree of highest distinction, after completing Erasmus studentship/internship at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bologna. He obtained a doctoral degree from the School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin and continued his research in the field. His current research project is to study host-gut microbiome interactions using a C. elegans model

Jasmine Chong (PhD Student, 01/2018 - 04/2022)

Jasmine received her Bachelor's degree in Biology, majoring in Molecular Biology and minoring in Marine Biology, from the University of New Brunswick in April 2013. She then pursued her Master's degree in Epidemiology from the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health from McGill University in May 2016. Her research interest is on integrating microbiome and metabolomics data sets to enable deep functional insights.

Peng Liu (Research Associate, 10/2018 - 01/2022)

Dr. Liu obtained his PhD in Molecular Population Genetics from National University of Singapore in 2016, after received Master degree in Plant Pathology from China Agricultural University in 2009 and Bachelor degree in Plant Protection from Henan Agricultural University in 2006. His PhD thesis focused on transcriptome analysis of fish in response to virus infection and mapping quantitative trait loci (QTL) for viral disease resistance. After a short Postdoc in Western University, he worked as RPR-research scientist on metagenomics in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for two years. He joined McGill as a Postdoc in 2018 to develop a novel pipeline to enable comprehensive transcriptome analysis from RNAseq (without reference genomes), as well as to develop better approaches for microbiome data analysis to understand ecology and evolution.

Abhishikha Sharma (Postdoctoral Researcher, 11/2019 - 03/2021)

Dr. Sharma obtained her BSc. Degree in Life Sciences and MSc. degree in Bioinformatics with first class distinction from University of Allahabad, India in 2005 and 2009 respectively. She received her Ph.D. degree in Bioinformatics from University of Delhi, India in 2019, with some high-quality journal publications. Her Ph.D. thesis focused on “Computational analysis of beta-lactamase mediated antibiotic resistance in microbial pathogens”. She joined McGill University as a Postdoc in 2019 to develop a new-generation computational framework for the comprehensive analysis of the complex multi-omics data (RNAseq, metabolomics, microbiome) with high-level integration via biostatistics, dynamic data visualization and domain knowledge to help understand complex omic data through web/cloud platform.

Othman Soufan (Postdoctoral Researcher, 01/2017 - 08/2020)

Dr. Soufan received his Bachelor of Science degree (Management Information Systems) with first class distinction from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in 2010. He then joined King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) where he obtained both his MSc and PhD degrees (Computer Science) in 2012 and 2016 respectively, with several high-quality journal publications and one filed patent. His PhD thesis is on Novel Data Mining Methods for Virtual Screening of Biological Active Chemical Compounds. In 2017, Othman has received a postdoctoral fellowship award from McGill University. His project is on developing a new-generation bioinformatics platform to help characterize and prioritize chemicals by integrating chemoinformatics, multi-omics profiles (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics) and phenotypic measurements, within the context of toxicogenomics and systems biology.

Tsai-Chi (Cathy) Shang Kuan (Research Assistant, 03/2020 - 07/2020)

Cathy obtained her Bachelor's degree in Animal Science from National Taiwan University in 2017. During her undergraduate degree, she conducted research on the antiviral activity of Lactobacillusand Bifidobacterium. She then obtained her Master's degree in Parasitology from McGill University in 2020. Under the supervision of Dr. Roger Prichard, she studied the developmental regulation of the dog heart worm. She is now interested in learning LC-MS metabolomics for host-parasite interactions and systematic data analysis.

Estevan Bruginski (Visiting PhD Student - 04/2019 - 06/2020)

Estevan obtained his Bachelor of Pharmacy from Universidade Positivo (Curitiba, Brazil). His MSc (Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil) dissertation was in imaging mass spectrometry of secondary metabolites on plant tissues. His PhD (Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil) is focusing in mass spectrometry-based metabolomics as a tool to diagnosis gastrointestinal diseases. Estevan is funded by the CAPES project scholarship from Brazil to spend about a year at Xia Lab to learn more about bioinformatics and statistics for metabolomics data analysis.

Mai Yamamoto (Postdoctoral Researcher, 01/2019 - 10/2019)

Dr. Yamamoto received her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry with distinction from Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC in 2012. Then, she completed her Ph.D. in Chemical Biology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario in 2018. Her Ph.D. projects focused on metabolomics of chronic digestive disorders using capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry. She joined McGill in 2019 to develop novel computational tools to process untargeted metabolomics data generated from a high resolution mass spectrometry and streamline the data workflow. She is now working at The Metabolomics Innovation Center at Edmonton.

Honghao Zhao (PhD Research Trainee, 2017 - 2018)

Honghao received her Bachelor's degree of Aquaculture from the College of Fisheries, Huazhong Agricultural University, China in 2013. She joined our lab as joint PhD student sponsored by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) Joint Scholarship Program (August 2017 - August 2018). Her research project is on “Integrative analysis of multi-omic datasets on muscle quality to understand the mechanisms of regulation in Ctenopharyngodon idella under different culture models”.

Achal Dhariwal (MSc student, 2016 - 2018)

Achal received his Bachelor of Technology (Major: Bioinformatics) from the VIT University, India in 2015. He is interested in developing computational approaches to improve functional analysis of 16S rRNA marker gene and shotgun metagenomics data.

Achal completed his MSc in April 2018, and is now pursuing his PhD degree at University of Oslo (Norway)

Yannan Fan (MSc student, 2016 - 2018)

Yannan received her Bachelor of Engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China. She joined the lab in June after she graduated from the McGill Biotechnology Graduate Program in May 2015. Yannan is interested in microRNA bioinformatics, data visualization and web technologies.

Yannan completed her MSc in May 2018, and will work as a Research Scientist at BGI Shenzhen (China)

Deepak Tanwar (MSc student, 2016 - 2018)

Deepak received his Bachelor of Technology in Bioinformatics from Amity University Rajasthan, India (2009-2014). He did his thesis from Hans-Knöll-Institut, University of Jena, Germany. From 2014 to 2016, he worked as a visiting scientist at University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. Deepak joined McGill as a M.Sc. student in August 2016 under co-supervision of Drs. Sarah Kimmins and Jeff Xia. His project is on sperm epigenome analysis to identify regions susceptible to environmental perturbations

Deepak completed his MSc in Jan. 2018 and is now pursuing his PhD degree at ETH Zürich

Oliver Tipler (Research Assistant, 05/2018 - 12/2018)

Oliver is an M.Sc. Student at McGill who is working for 8 months in Xia Lab as part of his biotechnology degree. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Manchester in the U.K. He is currently aiding Jasmine with her work on a microbiome data based website.

Maria Habib (MSc Research Trainee, 01/2018 - 08/2018)

Maria is a graduate research trainee for ~9 months (Jan. 2018-Aug. 2018) in the Xia Lab, as part of her Master's degree in Web Intelligence in the University of Jordan. She had received her Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Jordan. Maria is interested in developing smart computational tools in the field of bioinformatics, data mining and visualization

Jin Kweon (PhD Intern, 01/2019 - 05/2019)

Jin received his bachelor degree in Statistics from University of California, Berkeley in May, 2018. Previously, he studied the short-term effect on auditory working memory performances. He is working in Dr. Xia's lab as a PhD rotation (01/2019 - 05/2019). His research project is on multivariate statistics (data-driven) approach for integrating multi-omics data.

Jing Zhao (Visiting Scholar, 06/2018 - 12/2018)

Jing is a medical technician from The Second Hospital of Jilin University, with research focus on diagnosis from ultra sound images. She is interested in learning different image processing and machine learning approaches to improve the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Short-term Trainees

  • Vaishnavi Vundrakonda (6 months)
  • Matthew Oldach (4 months)
  • Saireddy Achakkagari (3 months)
  • Zainab Bello (6 months)
  • Spencer Griese (part-time intern)
  • Dhruv Bhalla (2 months)
  • Iurie Caraus (5 months)