Étienne Caron , Ph.D.
    Étienne Caron
    Research Axis
    Immune Diseases and Cancer Axis
    CHUSJ - Centre de Recherche

    514 345-4931 5199



    • Head Deputy, Research Axis - Immune Diseases and Cancer, CHU Sainte-Justine
    • Principal investigator, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center
    • Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Université de Montréal


    Mass Spectrometry and Immunotherapy


    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Molecular Systems Biology (IMSB), ETH-Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland, 2012-2018.
    • Postdoctoral Fellow, EMBL-CRG, Systems Biology Unit, Barcelona, Spain, 2011-2012.
    • PhD, Systems Biology, Institute of Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada, 2005-2011.
    • MSc, Biomedical Sciences, Maisonneuve Rosemont Hospital Research Center, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada, 2001-2005.
    • BSc, Biology and Biotechnology, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada, 1999-2001.

    Research Interests

    Checkpoint blockade immunotherapy is revolutionizing clinical oncology. However, it remains unclear why only a subset of patients exhibit durable clinical responses and new methods and technologies are urgently needed to enhance the overall efficiency of checkpoint therapy.

    As principal investigator at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, the main goal of my laboratory is to develop and apply next-generation mass spectrometry technologies (i.e. SWATH or data-independent acquisition mass spectrometry) to advance the field of immuno-oncology and cancer immunotherapy. In particular, we use proteomics, immunopeptidomics and computational mass spectrometry approaches to better understand the mechanisms of tumor response and resistance to checkpoint therapy.

    In collaboration with clinical investigators, we are also interested in identifying 1) protein biomarkers of response and relapse to checkpoint therapy, and 2) new forms of tumor-specific neoantigens to design innovative cancer vaccines for the treatment of refractory patients.

    Finally, we are co-founders of the international Human Immuno-Peptidome Project and we develop the SysteMHC Atlas project to make an emerging field of research based on "Big Immuno-Peptidomic Data" accessible to the community. Our multidisciplinary research program is highly collaborative by nature and we aim to have a significant impact on patient care worldwide.

    Research Topics

    • Cancer immunotherapy
    • Proteomics and immunopeptidomics
    • Mass spectrometry (SWATH/DIA)
    • Systems Biology
    • Bioinformatics

    Career Summary

    Etienne was born in Canada. He did his PhD in Claude Perreault’s laboratory at the Université de Montréal. By merging mass spectrometry and computational biology to a strong fundamental immunology background, he was able to elucidate novel mechanisms regulating antigen processing and presentation by MHC molecules. His PhD was supported by both the CIHR and FRQS and led to the publication of a total of 10 papers.

    Etienne then pursued his training first in Luis Serrano’s laboratory in Spain, an expert in Systems Biology of Cancer, and then in Ruedi Aebersold’s laboratory in Switzerland, a world-leader and pioneer in proteomics and mass spectrometry. Etienne developed not only a profound expertise in the development of novel mass spectrometry approaches to study the complexity of the human immunopeptidome but also became a world-leader in the field, founding and chairing the Human Immuno-Peptidome Project, an international initiative reuniting top leaders in mass spectrometry and immunology.

    His work led to the publication of 14 papers in high-impact journals (including Immunity, eLife, Cell Rep, Nucleic Acids Res, Nature). Supported by the most prestigious European grants  (EMBO and Marie Curie), Etienne’s seminal postdoctoral work forms the foundation of his current research program. 

    As principal investigator at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, his research goal is to significantly impact the field of cancer immunotherapy and will do so by developing innovative mass spectrometry approaches to study the proteome and immunopeptidome in various cancer, melanoma and acute myeloid leukemia in particular.

    Awards and Distinctions

    • Nominated by the European Commission for the 64th annual Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, 2014.
    • Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2013-2015.
    • EMBO Long-term Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2011-2013.
    • CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined), 2011.
    • Canadian Cancer Society and Terry Fox Foundation Studentship Award (declined), 2009.
    • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship Award, 2009.
    • Cole Foundation Scholarship Doctoral Award, 2009-2011.
    • CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award, 2006-2009.
    • FRQ-S Doctoral Fellowship (declined), 2006.


    • Tansition Award, Cole Foundation, 2019-2022
    • TBVAC2020 (HORIZON2020) European Commission, 2015-2019.


    • Yale University, Immunobiology, New Haven, USA, 2018/06.  
    • Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, Marseille, France, 2018/05.             
    • The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA, 2018/03.            
    • University of Chicago, Institute of Molecular Engineering, Chicago, USA, 2018/02.           
    • Duke University, Immunology, Durham, USA, 2018/01.    


    • Schuster H, Shao W, Weiss T, Pedrioli P, Roth P, Weller M, Campbell DS, Deutsch EW, Moritz RL, Rammensee HG, Aebersold R*, Caron E*. A tissue-based draft map of the murine MHC class I immunopeptidome. Sci. Data. 2018, 5:180157. *Co-corresponding author
    • Shao W, Pedrioli P, Wolski W, Scurtescu C, Schmid E, Vizcaino JA, Courcelles M, Schuster H, Kowalewski D, Marino F, Arlehamn CSL, Vaughan K, Peters B, Sette A, Ottenhoff THM, Meijgaarden KE, Nieuwenhuizen N, Kaufmann SHE, Schlapbach R, Castle JC, Nesvizhskii AI, Nielsen M, Deutsch EW, Campbell DS, Moritz RL, Zubarev RA, Ytterberg AJ, Purcell AW, Marcilla M, Paradela A, Wang Q, Costello CE, Ternette N, van Veelen PA, van Els CACM, Heck AJR, de Souza GA, Sollid LM, Admon A, Stevanovic S, Rammensee HG, Thibault P, Perreault C, Bassani-Sternberg M, Aebersold R*, and Caron E*. The SysteMHC Atlas project. Nucleic Acids Res. 2018, 46(D1):D1237-D1247.*Co-corresponding author
    • Caron E*, Aebersold R, Banaei-Esfahani A, Chong C, Bassani-Sternberg M*. A Case for a Human Immuno-Peptidome Project Consortium. Immunity. 2017, 47:203-208. Lead contact, *Co-corresponding author
    • Caron E*, Roncagalli R*, Takeshi H, Wolski WE, Meena C, Menoita MG, Durand S, Garcia-Blesa A, Fierro-Monti I, Sajic T, Heusel M, Weiss T, Malissen M, Schlapbach R, Collins B, Ghosh S, Kitano H, Aebersold R, Malissen B, Gstaiger M. Precise temporal profiling of protein signaling complexes in primary cells using SWATH mass spectrometry. Cell Rep. 2017, 18:3219-3226. *Co-first author
    • Caron E*, Espona L, Kowalewski D, Schuster H, Ternette N, Alpízar A, Schittenhelm RB, Lindestam CSA, Koh CC, Gillet L, Rabsteyn A, Sturm T, Navarro P, Kim S, Lam H, Marcilla M, Sette A, Campbell DS, Deutsch EW, Moritz RL, Purcell AW, Rammensee HG, Stevanovic S, Aebersold R*. An open-source computational and data resource to analyze quantitative digital maps of immunopeptidomes. eLife. 2015, 4:e07661.*Co-corresponding author
    • Gubin MM, Zhang X, Schuster H, Caron E, Noguchi T, Ward JP, Ivanova Y, Hundal J, Arthur CD, Krebber WJ, Mulder GE, Vesely MD, Lam SSK, Korman AJ, Allison JP, Freeman GJ, Sharpe AH, Pearce EL, Aebersold R, Rammensee HG, Melief CJM, Mardis ER, Gillanders WE, Artyomov MN, Schreiber RD. Checkpoint blockade cancer immunotherapy targets tumour-specific mutant antigens. Nature. 2014, 515:577-581.
    • Caron E*, Vincent K*, Fortier MH*, Laverdure JP, Bramoullé A, Hardy MP, Voisin G, Roux PP, Lemieux S, Thibault P, Perreault C. The MHC class I immunopeptidome conveys to the cell surface an integrative view of cellular regulation. Mol. Syst. Biol. 2011, 7:753. *Co-first author
    • Caron E, Ghosh S, Matsuoka Y, Ashton-Beaucage D, Therrien M, Lemieux S, Perreault C, Roux PP, Kitano H. A comprehensive map of the mTOR signaling network. Mol. Syst. Biol. 2010, 6:453.
    • Fortier MH*, Caron E*, Hardy MP, Voisin G, Lemieux S, Perreault C, Thibault P. The MHC class I peptide repertoire is molded by the transcriptome. J. Exp. Med. 2008, 205:595-610. *Co-first author

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