Frederick Roth

Frederick Roth

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Integrative Biology

University of Toronto

“Professor Roth is at the forefront of the race to develop new tools to unlock and make use of the wealth of DNA and protein information around the world. He is precisely the class of researcher we hoped the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program would enable us to attract to Canada.”

― David Naylor, past president, University of Toronto


Before becoming Canada Excellence Research Chair in Integrative Biology, Frederick Roth was an associate professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology.

Roth completed his PhD in biophysics at Harvard University, after studying both physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving his PhD, he gained experience in applied biotechnology as a scientist at Millennium Pharmaceuticals. He currently co-directs the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s Genetic Networks program, and is a member of the Center for Cancer Systems Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

With numerous publications to its credit, Roth’s team has contributed work to leading journals including Science, Nature and Cell. Roth has also served as associate editor for Bioinformatics, Public Library of Science: Computational Biology, and G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics.

Roth’s group continues to focus on developing technology to more efficiently relate genes to the functioning of living systems and human disease.

Genomic Technologies for Mapping Pathways and Understanding Diseases

Imagine a future where people routinely read their own genomes to explore their individuality and their health. It may sound like science fiction, but scientists today are already able to read the basic DNA blueprint for any species we care to study. The challenge is that the genome sequence is like an encyclopedia written in an alien language, and our ability to record DNA sequences has greatly outpaced our capacity to understand them.

Building on a decade of outstanding innovation in experimental and computational genomics at Harvard University, Frederick Roth, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Integrative Biology, is helping us better understand what genes do and how they impact our health.

Working with his team at the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital, Roth is exploring new ways to experimentally determine which variants in individual genome sequences are likely to cause disease. They are also exploiting next-generation sequencing methods to map networks of protein interactions, and determine which interactions change under different growth or disease conditions.

Roth’s work will add to the leading-edge systems biology research team already in place at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and the University of Toronto. His team includes experimental technologists and computational experts, and operates by fostering collaboration between experts in technology and those in biomedical research.

Roth’s research will help Canada to remain at the forefront of biomedical research, develop highly qualified personnel in this growing field, and contribute innovative products and intellectual property to Canada’s economy.

Related Sites

Roth Laboratory



Release date

October 11, 2011

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Read the Transcript

Frederick Roth, University of Toronto

I'm Frederick Roth.

So I would say the goal of my research is to develop technology to facilitate that to make experiments that act on every gene and every protein more efficient and allow us to access higher through-put, larger scale experiments.

What I say is my career achievement that I'm most proud and that's sort of hard to say, I'd like to think that our best work is yet to come. But if I look back, I guess I was very proud at the beginning in my PhD thesis work. We were among the first users of a new technology called micro-ray analysis of gene expression, which is now common practice in the lab. I guess more recently in my lab I've been very excited about integrating all the large-scale data that we can get our hands on—gene sequence patterns, expression patterns, protein interaction networks, patterns of conservation across species—and try to pull all the large-scale evidence together that we can and try to infer functions for genes. What is this gene doing given all of the unbiased large-scale experimentation that's been done on it.

Before the Canada Excellence Research Chairs program came along, actually going back seven years now, I got very excited reading a paper by Charlie Boone and Brenda Andrews here at the University of Toronto where they described large-scale measurements of genetic interactions. And I was inspired by this, that this is the place to take my science to the next level and so I was very excited to have a chance.