Next VanBUG event: Dr. Martin Hirst – April 9th 6pm‏

For our final event of this season, Dr. Martin Hirst from Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre will present his work next Thursday April 9th.  Dr. Hirst talk is titled: “Epigenetic and Genetic Collusion in Transformation”.

Abstract: Mammalian genomes carry non-uniform chemical marks covalently attached to DNA bases and their packaging proteins. These chemical marks, which collectively define the epigenome, interact with cellular transcriptional machinery to establish activity states that reinforce gene activation or silencing. In contrast to the genome, which remains largely the same throughout an individual’s life, the epigenome changes during development and aging, in response to various external stimuli and as diseases emerge.  Epigenetic changes (epimutations) are an alternative mechanism to genetic mutation by which oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes may be deregulated within a cancer cell. Such changes are prevalent in many cancer types, and their appearance may precede genetic changes in pre-malignant cells and promote the accumulation of additional damaging genetic and epigenetic lesions.  Epimutations are potentially reversible and thus provide a therapeutic opportunity not readily available in the context of somatic genetic lesions.

Recent technological advancements have enabled the reproducible assessment of epigenomic marks across the entire genome of human cells and large-scale international efforts are now underway to generate high-resolution reference epigenome maps to accelerate the scientific exploitation of human epigenomic information. The epigenome maps thus generated integrate detailed DNA methylation, histone modification, nucleosome occupancy and coding and non-coding RNA expression in different normal and disease cell types, with the goal of providing new insights into many diseases, including cancer and the discovery of new means to control them.

In this lecture I will provide an overview of our work within the NIH Reference Epigenome Program ( <>epigenomeroadmap) and describe how this work supports the broader goals of the International Human Epigenome Consortium ( <>).   Finally, I will present our recent work utilizing epigenomic mapping techniques to understand the interplay between genetic and epigenetic lesions in cancer.

Bio: Dr. Hirst’s research is directed at understanding the role of epigenetics in normal development and cancer and investigating the therapeutic potential of interventions directed at epigenetic processes.   Dr. Hirst is the co-chair of the scientific steering committee of the International Human Epigenomics Consortium (IHEC) where he also chairs the IHEC assay standards group.   As part of the NIH Reference Human Epigenome and Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortiums Dr. Hirst has generated and analyzed comprehensive epigenomic profiles from a wide range of normal adult, fetal, embryonic and extraembryonic tissues and purified cell types. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, primarily in the area of genomics since 1998.

Our introductory speaker is Niels Hanson from Dr. Steve Hallam’ Lab.

Seminar is followed by complementary pizza, refreshments and great networking.
For updates on seminar topics and abstracts, please check out our website at <>

Please note:
Trainees are invited to meet with the VanBUG speaker for open discussion
of both science and career paths. This takes place 4:30-5:30pm in either
the Boardroom or Lunchroom on the ground floor of the BCCRC

675 West 10th Avenue
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Family Theatre
BC Cancer Agency

See above for this year’s dates
Start Time: 6:00 PM
End Time: 7:30 PM (followed by pizza and drinks)

Contact Name:
William Hsiao <> <>

The VanBUG team:
Cedric Chauve
Rodrigo Goya
William Hsiao
Kieran O’Neill
Raunak Shrestha
Shing Hei Zhan
Amy Lee

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