Jocelyn Côté PhD

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Jocelyn Côté PhD
Vice-Dean, Research

Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 8390
Work E-mail: jcote@uottawa.ca

Dr. Jocelyn Côté

Biography

Dr. Jocelyn Côté completed his PhD in microbiology at the Université de Sherbrooke in 1998. Following a postdoctoral fellowship with the Department of Paediatrics at Washington University, he went on to complete a senior postdoctoral fellowship at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at McGill University.

A full professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Dr. Côté has been a member of our faculty over 15 years. He was Assistant Dean of Research and Special Projects from 2014 to 2019, during which time he led a number of large-scale space expansion and infrastructure projects. His leadership in promoting research space and resource optimization, as well as continued expansion and improvements to the Faculty of Medicine’s Core Facilities, have ensured that researchers across the Faculty of Medicine and affiliated hospital research institutes have access to state-of-the-art facilities, technical expertise and training to enable them to perform leading-edge research and remain competitive on the world stage.

Dr. Côté leads a highly productive research program focusing on the role of arginine methylation, a post-translational modification often harbored by RNA binding proteins, in the regulation of post-transcriptional mechanisms and how these novel molecular pathways are misregulated in human pathologies such as spinal muscular atrophy (a motor neuron disease), myotonic dystrophy, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and cancer. His research interests are currently divided between three broad axes: (i) investigating how arginine methylation of various RNA binding proteins regulates their function in physiological and pathological settings, (ii) the normal function and role in disease of Tudor domain-containing proteins, which serve as ‘readers’ and effectors of the arginine methylation mark, and (iii) the contribution of arginine methylation to cancer development and progression.

His previous work has demonstrated that the Tudor domain of survival motor neuron (SMN) protein, the causative gene for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), serves as a methyl-binding protein-protein interface involved in the assembly of various RNA-protein complexes, including so-called axonal RNA granules. This work has led to his laboratory’s discovery of several novel roles for SMN in motoneurons, with crucial implications for understanding SMA pathophysiology and the development of new therapeutic approaches. Their study of another Tudor-containing protein called TDRD3 led to the discovery that this protein uses methyl-binding properties to regulate selective protein translation and promote progression of breast cancer toward a more aggressive state. Dr. Côté also leads several projects on the role of specific protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMT1v2, PRMT6 and PRMT7) in breast cancer. Targeting these various novel regulatory pathways represents promising avenues for the development of new therapies to reduce progression to metastatic breast cancer, improve response to existing therapeutic regiments and overall favour better survival outcomes.

Dr. Côté was selected for a highly competitive Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Award in 2005, received a Distinguished Young Professor Award in 2008, and held the Canada Research Chair in RNA Metabolism in Health and Disease from 2005 to 2015. He has made outstanding contributions to research excellence at the University, including the discovery of novel regulatory pathways and key insights into various disease mechanisms, opening new avenues for the development of future therapeutic approaches for neuromuscular diseases and cancer. Dr. Côté’s research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Cancer Research Society, and CureSMA.

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