Christopher McFarland, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences
School of Medicine
Assistant Professor
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
School of Medicine
Cancer Genomics and Epigenomics Program
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center

Visit the McFarland Lab

Chris graduated from the University of Rochester with B.S. degrees in Biochemistry and Physics. He then obtained a PhD from Harvard University in Biophysics under the guidance of Prof. Leonid Mirny where he studied the effects of deleterious passenger mutations in cancer. As a postdoctoral scholar, he worked with Profs. Dmitri Petrov and Monte Winslow at Stanford University to develop a high-throughput technology for studying combinatorial tumor suppressor losses in mice and their effects on clonal cancer evolution. 

Research Information

Research Projects

Cancers, like many of today’s most difficult diseases, are difficult to treat because they evolve. Our lab studies this evolutionary process by combining theoretical, statistical, and experimental techniques. Cancer’s lifelong somatic evolutionary process is embedded in each tumor’s (epi)genome. In genomically-unstable tumors, tens of thousands of mutations can accrue. The evolutionary forces acting on these complex genomes are impossible to decipher with existing evolutionary statistics and experimental models. We have found that Hill-Robertson interference and epistasis both severely constrain cancer evolution and confound our interpretation of genomic patterns. These breakthroughs were only possible through wet and dry lab collaborations — a hallmark of the lab.

Key Interests :

  • Evolutionary Theory
  • Statistical Genomics
  • Quantitative Mouse Modeling