Eric Ma, Ph.D.

Eric Ma, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow, Russell Jones Laboratory


Dr. Eric Ma earned his B.Sc. in biochemistry (first-class honors) and his Ph.D. in physiology from McGill University, focusing on immunometabolism and cancer metabolism. His graduate work focused on alterations in cellular metabolism and energy use and how metabolism affects immune responses. His research also gave him extensive experience in stable-isotope tracer analysis (SITA), GC/LC-MS expertise, Seahorse bioanalyzer, and the Listeria monocytogenes infection model. Before joining Van Andel Institute, he worked in industry as a cell metabolism intern. In 2019, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Russell Jones at VAI as a postdoctoral fellow.


Current research focus

The use of metabolic profiling techniques, particularly stable-isotope tracers coupled with mass spectrometry has helped elucidate the complex metabolic networks in T lymphocytes. This has led to an abundance of evidence illustrating the importance of metabolism in supporting T lymphocyte functions. The majority of metabolism research is done in vitro, which does not capture the complexity of the nutrient environment in vivo. We utilize stable-isotope tracer analysis in vivo through tail vein 13C metabolite infusions to define the metabolic profile of CD8+ T effector cells in vivo.

Education & Training

Ph.D. in physiology, McGill University, Goodman Cancer Research Centre (Advisor: Dr. Russell Jones)
Thesis: Metabolic requirements of effector T cells in vitro and in vivo

B.Sc. in biochemistry (Honors), McGill University

Awards & External Funding



FRQS Doctoral Training Award

FRQS, Province of Quebec

McGill Integrated Cancer Research Training Program

McGill University

Goodman Cancer Research Centre

Maysie Macsporran Graduate Studentship

McGill University

Goodman Cancer Research Centre

Graduate Excellence Award

McGill University Department of Physiology

Canderel Travel Award

McGill University
Goodman Cancer Research Centre

GREAT Travel Award

McGill University Department of Physiology

Étudiant-chercheur étoile

FRQS, Province of Quebec

McGill MedStar Award

McGill University Faculty of Medicine


To view a list of selected publications click below.

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Roy DG*, Chen J*, Mamane V, Ma EH, Muhire BM, Sheldon RD, Shorstova T, Koning R, Johnson RM, Esaulova E, Williams KS, Hayes S, Steadman M, Samborska B, Swain A, Daigneault A, Chubukov V, Roddy TP, Foulkes W, Pospisilik JA, Dourgeois-Daigneualt, Artyomov MN, Witcher M, Krawczyk CM, Larochelle C, Jones RG. 2020. Methionine metabolism shapes helper T helper cell responses through regulation of epigenetic reprogramming. Cell Metab 31(2):250–266.
Highlighted in a preview in Cell Metabolism

EH Ma, Verway MJ, Johnson RM, Roy DG, Steadman M, Hayes S, Williams KS, Sheldon RD, Samborska B, Kosinski PA, Kim H, Griss T, Faubert B, Condotta SA, Krawczyk CM, DeBerardinis RJ, Marsh K, Richer MJ, Chubukov V, Roddy T, Jones RG. 2019. Metabolic profiling using stable isotope tracing reveals distinct patterns of glucose utilization by physiologically activated CD8+ T cells. Immunity.

Hulea L, Gravel SP, Morita M, Cargnello M, Uchenunu , Im YK, Lehuédé C, Ma EH, Leibovitch M, McLaughlan S, Blouin MJ, Parisotto M, Papavasiliou V, Lavoie C, Larsson O, Ohh M, Ferreira T, Greenwood C, Bridon G, Avizonis D, Ferbeyre G, Siegel P, Jones RG, Muller W, Ursini-Siegel J, St-Pierre J, Pollak M, Topisirovic I. 2018. Translational and HIF-1α-dependent metabolic reprogramming underpin metabolic plasticity and responses to kinase inhibitors and biguanides. Cell Metab 28(6):817-832.e8.

Poffenberger MC, Metcalfe-Roach A, Aguilar E, Chen J, Hsu BE, Wong AH, Johnson RM, Flynn B,  Samborska B, Ma EH, Gravel SP, Tonelli L, Devorkin L, Kim P, Hall A, Izreig S, Loginicheva E, Beauchemin N, Siegel P, Artyomov MN, Lum JJ, Zogopoulos G, Blagih J, Jones RG. 2018. LKB1 deficiency in T cells promotes the development of gastrointestinal polyposis. Science 361(6400):406–411.

Raud B, Roy DG, Divakaruni AS, Tarasenko TN, Franke R, Ma EH, Samborska B, Hsieh WY, Wong AH, Stüve P, Arnold-Schrauf C, Guderian M, Lochner M, Rampertaap S, Romito K, Monsale J, Brönstrup M, Bensinger SJ, Murphy AN, McGuire PJ, Jones RG, Sparwasser T, Berod L. 2018. Etomoxir actions on regulatory and memory T cells are independent of Cpt1a-mediated fatty acid oxidation. Cell Metab 28(3):504-515.e7.

Guak H, Habyan SA, Ma EH, Aldossary H, Al-Masri M, Won SY, Ying T, Fixman ED, Jones RG,  McCaffrey   LM,   Krawczyk   CM.  2018. Glycolytic metabolism is essential for CCR7 oligomerization and dendritic cell migration. Nat Comm. 

Tzelepis F, Blagih J, Khan N, Gillard J, Mendonca L, Roy DG, Ma EH, Joubert P, Jones RG, Divangahi M. 2018. Mitochondrial cyclophilin D regulates T cell metabolic responses and disease tolerance to tuberculosis. Sci Immunol 3(23).

Robichaud N, Hsu BE, Istomine R, Alvarez F, Blagih J, Ma EH, Morales SV, Dai DL, Li G, Souleimanova M, Guo Q, Del Rincon SV, Miller WH Jr, Ramón Y Cajal S, Park M, Jones RG, Piccirillo CA, Siegel PM, Sonenberg N. 2018. Translational control in the tumor microenvironment promotes lung metastasis: Phosphorylation of eIF4E in neutrophils. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115(10):E2202–E2209.  

Rabinovitch RC, Samborska B, Faubert B, Ma EH, Gravel SP, Andrzejewski S, Raissi TC, Pause A, St-Pierre J, Jones RG. 2017. AMPK maintains cellular metabolic homeostasis through regulation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. Cell Rep 21(1):1–9

Ma EH, Poffenberger MC, Wong AH, Jones RG. 2017. The role of AMPK in T cell metabolism and function. Curr Opin Immunol.

Ma EH, Bantug G, Griss T, Verway MJ, Johnson RM, Condotta S, Raissi TC, Tsui H, Samborska B, Boukhaled G, Balmer M, Henriques da Costa S, Frezza C, Krawczyk CM, Richer MJ, Hess C, Jones RG. 2017. Serine is an essential metabolite for effector T cell expansion. Cell Metab.

Izreig S, Samborska B, Johnson R, Sergushichev A, Ma EH. Lussier C, Loginicheva E, Donayo A, Poffenberger M, Sagan S, Vincent E, Artyomov M, Duchaine T Jones RG. 2016. The miR-17 ∼ 92 microRNA cluster is a global regulator of tumor metabolism. Cell Rep 16(7):1915–1928. Ma EH, Jones RG. 2016. (TORC)ing up purine biosynthesis. Science.

Balmer ML, Ma EH, Bantug GR, Grählert J, Pfister S, Glatter, T, Jauch A, Dimeloe S, Slack E, Dehio P, Krzyzaniak MA, King CG, Burgener AV, Fischer M, Develioglu L, Belle R, Recher M, Bonilla WV, Macpherson AJ, Hapfelmeier S, Jones RG, Hess C. 2016. Memory CD8+ T cells require increased concentrations of acetate induced by stress for optimal function. Immunity.

Griss T, Vincent EE, Egnatchik R, Chen J MA HE, Faubert B, Biollet B, DeBerardinis RJ, Jones RG. 2015. Metformin antagonizes cancer cell proliferation by suppressing mitochondrial-dependent biosynthesis. PLoS Biol 13(12):e1002309.

Awuah E, Ma E, Hoegl A, Vong K, Habib E, Auclair K. 2014. Exploring structural motifs necessary for substrate binding in the active site of Escherichia coli pantothenate kinaseBioorg Med Chem.

Poster/Oral Presentations

  1. (2018). Poster- In vivo heavy isotope tracing reveals requirement of serine biosynthetic pathway for Teff cell expansion. Cell Symposia: Translational Immunometabolism, Basel, Switzerland
    Main Audience: Researcher
    Invited?: Yes
  2. (2017). Poster- Rethinking metabolic reprogramming in T cells. Keystone Symposia: Integrating Metabolism and Immunity, Dublin, Ireland
    Main Audience: Researcher
    Invited?: Yes
  3. (2016). Talk- Serine is an Essential Metabolite for Optimal T Cell Function. Keystone Symposia: Immunometabolism in Immune Function and Inflammatory Disease, Banff, Canada
    Main Audience: Researcher
    Invited?: Yes
  4. 2015). Poster- Investigating The Role Of Serine For T Cell Activation And Malignancy. Terry Fox Research Institute 6th Annual Scientific Meeting, St. John’s, Canada
    Main Audience: Researcher
    Invited?: Yes