Assistant Professor

Ian King

Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology - Molecular Genetics


Toronto General Hospital: University Health Network (UHN)
200 Elizabeth St., Lab Med Program, Toronto, Ontario Canada M5G 2C4
Research Interests
Cancer, Genetics Genomics & Proteomics
Clinical Interests
Molecular Genetics
Appointment Status

Ian King is a molecular biologist and geneticist, whose research has focused on the mechanisms of complex genetic disease, including addiction and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

He trained as a Clinical Molecular Geneticist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and worked in industry before joining University Health Network in 2018.


Research Synopsis


Research interests include application of new technologies to molecular diagnostics and the treatment of inherited disease and cancer, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence and health informatics.

With the advance of genomic sequencing technologies, the generation of massive quantities of sequence data for genetic diagnosis has become easy and inexpensive. However, interpretation of these data is laborious and difficult, and limits the scale to which genomics can be applied in the clinic.

It is widely recognized that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is the most promising approach to automating the interpretation of genomic data, and the implementation of these technologies in the clinic will be a vital area of study in the near future.

The Advanced Molecualar Diagnostics Laboratory (AMDL) at Princess Margaret Hospital has contracted with IBM to use the Watson for Genomics (WfG) platform to interpret data from gene sequencing panels used to diagnose and assess risk for leukemia and solid tumors.

WfG will be used to analyze historical data from clinical testing in order to compare the performance of WfG to the manual curation and interpretation of sequence data that is currently in practice at AMDL. The concordance between WfG and other publicly and commercially available knowledge bases also will be evaluated using metrics developed in the initial evaluation. In addition to historical data, we plan to evaluate WfG and other AI platforms and knowledge bases for real-time evaluation of patient sequencing results from ongoing large-panel tumor sequencing studies active at UHN, with the aim of evaluating the impact of recommendations from these platforms on clinical practice and patient outcomes.

The overall goal of this research will be to develop benchmarks for the use of AI in the clinical laboratory that will inform other labs in Canada and internationally adopting this technology. Evaluation will focus on both clinical accuracy and on whether gains in efficiency offset the cost of using these platforms.


Recent Publications


Sanders CD, Leigh, MW, Zariwala, MA, Knowles MR, Chao KC, Weck, KE, King I, Wolf WE, Campbell DJ, Shapiro AJ. Pediatric Pulmonology, in press "The prevalence of the defining features of primary ciliary dyskinesia within a cri du chat syndrome cohort”

Mabb AM, Simon JM, King IF, Lee HM, An LK, Philpot BD, Zylka MJ. PLoS One. 2016 May 27;11(5):e0156439. “Topoisomerase 1 Regulates Gene Expression in Neurons through Cleavage Complex-Dependent and -Independent Mechanisms”

Judson MC, Wallace ML, Sidorov MS, Burette AC, Gu B, van Woerden GM, King IF, Han JE, Zylka MJ, Elgersma Y, Weinberg RJ, Philpot BD. Neuron. 2016 Apr 6;90(1):56-69. “GABAergic Neuron-Specific Loss of Ube3a Causes Angelman Syndrome-Like EEG Abnormalities and Enhances Seizure Susceptibility”

King IFG, Eddison M, Kaun KR, Heberlein U. PLoS ONE, (2014 Jan 31) 9(1): e87714. “EGFR and FGFR Pathways Have Distinct Roles in Drosophila Mushroom Body Development and Ethanol-Induced Behavior”

King IF, Yandava CN, Mabb AM, Hsiao J, Huang H-S, Pearson BL, Calabrese JM, Starmer J, Parker JS, Magnuson T, Chamberlain SJ, Philpot BD, Zylka MJ. Nature, (2013 Sep 5) 501 (7465) 58-62. “Topoisomerases facilitate transcription of long genes linked to autism”

Street SE, Kramer NJ, Walsh PL, Taylor-Blake B, Yadav MC, King IF, Vihko P, Wightman RM, Millán JL, Zylka MJ. Journal of Neuroscience (2013 Jul 3) 33 (27) 11314-22. “Tissue-Nonspecific Alkaline Phosphatase Acts Redundantly with PAP and NT5E to Generate Adenosine in the Dorsal Spinal Cord”