Dr. Ann Dorward, PhD
Associate Professor of BioMedical Sciences, Cross Appointment to Discipline of Genetics
Division of BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland
GENETIC ANALYSIS APPLIED TO REPRODUCTIVE SYNDROMES AND CANCER
Dr. Dorward’s laboratory utilizes a forward genetics approach in the laboratory mouse (Mus musculus) to identify DNA polymorphisms that contribute to reproductive disorders (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, AIS) and pediatric ovarian cancer susceptibility (juvenile-type granulosa cell tumours). Forward genetics is a process whereby a trait (phenotype) of interest is mapped to the relevant sequences in the DNA (genotype) that are responsible for variation of the trait. This method is advantageous in that no preconceived hypotheses for gene action are required; rather, new information can be obtained for the biological functions of DNA coding sequences, non-coding sequences or the epigenetic state genes that are linked to a phenotype of interest. Combined with reverse genetics approaches in genetically engineered strains of mice (gene knock-outs, knock-downs and transgenics), public access to the complete mouse genome sequence and powerful informatics tools, this phenotype-driven strategy is an important component of a systems biology approach to modeling disease traits in a mammalian organism. In addition to genes that contribute to AIS and juvenile-type GC tumourigenesis, the research program focuses on malignant tumour progression characteristics and chronology in a mouse model. Ultimately, new genetic discoveries in the mouse will be the focus of translational investigations to explore the biology of human disease and effective therapeutic avenues.