Cheryl D. Helgason Lab

As part of the MORGEN project, our interest is in the identification and validation of transcriptional regulators that are likely to play previously unidentified roles in endocrine pancreas development and islet cell function. Analysis and validation of ten pancreas longSAGE libraries, representing pancreas tissues from embryonic day 11.5 to adult islets, has been completed. We utilized quantitative RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, whole mount in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry to establish the expression patterns of interesting candidates. Additional work involved the use of siRNA knockdown, as well as over-expression, studies in both cell lines and adult islets to determine the functional significance of selected candidates. Ongoing studies involve the use of chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with deep sequencing (ChIP-Seq) to carry out genome-wide binding site identification for transcription factors that play critical roles in islet cell biology. Data from the ChIP-Seq experiments is combined with SAGE Tag-Seq library data generated from siRNA knockdown samples to identify targets for further analyses with the ultimate goal of assembling the validated data into transcriptional networks that define the properties of islet cells.

Cheryl D. Helgason, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist

Dr Helgason is a Senior Scientist in the Cancer Endocrinology Department at the BC Cancer Agency, as well as an Assistant Professor in the Surgery Department at the University of British Columbia. She is also an associate member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and a member of the Genetics, Experimental Medicine, and Interdisciplinary Oncology graduate programs.

Brad Hoffman, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Dr. Hoffman has been a member of the MORGEN team since 2006. He has been involved in all of the bioinformatics analyses of the pancreas libraries, as well as the functional validation studies. In addition to his significant scientific contributions, Dr. Hoffman has an active role in supervising the day-to-day activities in the lab.

Bogard Zavaglia, B.Sc.

Research Assistant

Bogard has been member of the MORGEN project since 2006. He is responsible for tissue collection, ChIP, cell culture, and various molecular biology aspects of the project, as well as for general laboratory maintenance.

Mike Beach, B.Sc.

Interdisciplinary Oncology M.Sc. Candidate

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Mike joined the MORGEN team in January 2007. He is responsible for islet isolations, optimization of the conditions for ChIP, and validation of targets identified in the ChIP-Seq experiments using a variety of techniques including ChIP-PCR and siRNA knockdown studies.