Torsten O. Nielsen MD/PhD FRCPC


Torsten O. Nielsen MD/PhD FRCPC is a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. After completing the combined MD/PhD program at McGill, he undertook training in Vancouver, Seattle, London, Birmingham, Stanford and the Cleveland Clinic before taking a position as a clinician-scientist pathologist, specializing in breast cancers and sarcomas. In breast cancer, he has worked extensively with the Breast Cancer Outcomes Unit of the British Columbia Cancer Agency to characterize the clinical features of the major intrinsic subtypes -- Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2E and Basal, publishing multiple well-cited studies applying biomarkers onto large tissue microarray series. In doing so, he has worked to improve and standardize immunohistochemical tests for estrogen receptor, basal biomarkers, immune biomarkers and Ki67, leading a dedicated international consortium through the Breast International Group.

With funding from the US National Institute of Health’s Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures program, Dr. Nielsen worked with Drs. Charles Perou, Matthew Ellis and Philip Bernard to translate breast cancer gene expression profiles into the PAM50 test, now available on the NanoString platform as the Prosigna clinical assay for breast cancer subtype and risk. Dr. Nielsen’s subsequent work has applied genomic techologies to Canadian and European clinical trial series to assess the value of expression patterns, mutations and immune biomarkers.

His other contributions include the world's first large scale microarray studies of sarcomas, development of the DOG-1 and TLE diagnostic immunohistochemistry tests, identification of the biology driving tenosynovial giant cell tumors, synovial sarcoma and epithelioid sarcoma, and involvement in clinical trials of targeted therapies for these tumor types. Dr. Nielsen has served as scientific chair for the Breast Correlative Science and the Sarcoma Disease Site committees for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, and is now Director of the combined MD/PhD program training program for clinician-scientists at the University of British Columbia.


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