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Elizabeth Simpson Lab

The Elizabeth M. Simpson Laboratory is focused on the developing brain. This group’s role in the Mouse Atlas project is to isolate tissues for SAGE library construction and undertake analysis and validation of the resulting libraries. Working with the other SAGE groups, the Simpson laboratory has developed new technologies for the project, including:

  • Low-quantity RNA library optimization, including experiments with SAGELite libraries constructed from only 10 ng of RNA.
  • Laser capture microdissection protocols have been developed that allow routine preparation of consistently high SAGE-quality RNA from laser-microdissected tissue. This is a first for SAGE library preparation.

Biological questions being asked by the lab include:

  • The study of the phenomenon of ocular dominance, which occurs during postnatal development of the mammalian visual cortex.
  • Optic cup development to study eye development in wild-type and mutant mice.
  • Telencephalic development. This experiment is focused on the earliest stages of forebrain development: the telencephalon. This is the period of development and differentiation of the subclasses of neural stem cells.
  • Genetic manipulation studies focusing on the transcription of NR2E1.


Elizbeth M. Simpson, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

A Senior Scientist at the Centre for Molecular Medicine & Therapeutics in the University of British Columbia. Dr. Simpson holds a Canada Research Chair in Genetics and Behaviour. Trained in Toronto, at the MIT Whitehead Institute, and The Jackson Laboratory, Dr. Simpson studies mouse development and genetics/genomics. She developed the 'Whole Chromosome Representational Difference Analysis' technique, and used it along with other approaches to isolate a large collection of mouse Y Chromosome probes and directed Jackson's 'Gene Targeting Service'. As such, she developed a variety of novel mouse strains by selective breeding, pronuclear injection, and homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells (knockouts), including a recovery of a novel mouse mutation named 'fierce'. Fierce mice have developmental, neurological, and behavioural abnormalities and demonstrate a high level of aggression and violence, with the males often killing their intended mate. Her molecular studies have revealed that the fierce mutation includes a deletion of Nr2e1, a brain specific orphan nuclear receptor. She now spearheads a multi-institutional effort to characterize this animal.

Slavita Bohacec, B.Sc.

Research Assistant

Yuan Yun (Robert) Xie, M.D., Ph.D.

Post Doctoral Fellow

Byron Kuo, B.Sc.

Master's Student

Earnest Leung, M.Sc.

Research Assistant

Sarah Dewell, M.Sc.

Research Assistant

« April 2019 »