Michael Hoffman. Photo provided by Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman creates predictive computational models to understand interactions between genome, epigenome, and phenotype in human cancers. He implemented the genome annotation method Segway, which simplifies interpretation of large multivariate genomic datasets, and was a linchpin of the NIH ENCODE Project analysis. He is a principal investigator at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Computer Science, University of Toronto.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

I have a Roomba, Mr. Belvedere II. We call him “Mr. Belvedere” for short.

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Yes, but very little of it is biology-themed. I have a lovely star chart and some engineering schematics on the wall.

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

I speak Spanish OK but not as well as I used to. Have started trying to learn some French since moving to Canada but couldn’t carry on a conversation!

8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?


9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?


10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?


11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?

Infinite concentration and refreshed-ness without sleep

12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?


13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Make ice cream

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

My wife, internet, running water

15 What beverage gives you life?

Coke Zero

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

Sword of the Spirits

17 What did you want to be be when you grew up?

newspaper journalist

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Getting things done

19 What got you excited in science?

Getting to know things about the universe before anyone else did.

20 What excites you about science now?

Creating something new

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Pop music

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can recite pi to 30 digits.

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

Jane, Unlimited

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

Make sure you take into account survivorship bias when considering advice.

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?


27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

Have more fun

28 What is the best way to de-stress?


29 What is the last thing you watched?

Derry Girls

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

3 vanilla beans

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

Lord of the Rings

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

Days with leap seconds

35 What is your favorite plant?


36 What is your favorite science fact?

Platypuses have lots of sex chromosomes.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?

Rolling river

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I get things done.

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?


42 What is your proudest moment?

Getting my PhD.

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Giant redwood

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

Being able to easily live without a car

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I make my own ice cream!

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?