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Spotlight on Excellence: UBC 2013 Banting Postdocs: Part I

Dr. Duffy conducts her genetics research at UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratories under Dr. Phil Hieter. She is one of the seven extraordinary UBC postdoctoral researchers to have been awarded a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2013.

We asked Dr. Duffy to describe for us, in lay terms, the nature of her research.

Project Title: Dosage CIN: A comprehensive analysis of gene dosage effects on genome stability

“My research focuses on understanding genetic changes that give rise to diseases such as cancer. Cancer is a disease where the genetic changes occur spontaneously in one part of the body. Genome instability is a hallmark feature seen in all cancer but whether this instability is a consequence of tumour progression or contributes to tumour formation remain to be understood.

Using high throughput genetic screens in the model organism budding yeast, I will focus on finding genes that affect the stability of the genome. While it is difficult to perceive what we have in common with yeast, many of the fundamental biological pathways that are essential for life are very well conserved from yeast to man. The goal of my research is to find genetic changes that are shared between yeast and human cancers. We then plan to study these changes in detail to understand whether genome instability is a cause or consequence of cancer.

The ultimate goal of my research is to utilize conserved genetic interactions to make cancer more susceptible to the effects of chemotherapy and to identify novel chemotherapeutic drugs.”

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program is designed to attract and retain world-class postdoctoral talent, develop their leadership potential and position them for success as the research leaders of tomorrow. Banting Fellows are selected on the basis of demonstrated research excellence, leadership and synergy with the research priorities of the host institution. Fellowship recipients receive $70,000 per year for up to two years of research.

A complete list of UBC’s 2013 Banting Postdoctoral Fellows.