Molecular Epidemiology Lab


The Molecular Epidemiology Lab provides investigators working on population-based studies with laboratory-based research expertise through a collaborative scientific relationship. The lab is headed by Dr. Karen W. Makar in the Cancer Prevention Program and supports epidemiological and clinical investigators at FHCRC and their collaborators at other institutions. In addition to assisting with biospecimen management and assay development, the laboratory specializes in four major research areas:

Genotyping

We provide genotyping services for candidate genes and polymorphisms, with a focus on low- to mid-plex genotyping using a variety of methods, including Taqman allelic discrimination on an ABI 7900HT instrument and Illumina Veracode GoldenGate technology on the BeadXpress reader. Current projects include investigating associations between colorectal cancer risk and genetic variability in genes within prostaglandin synthesis and NSAID metabolism pathways. Previous projects have looked at associations between genetic variability in drug metabolizing enzymes and cancer risk, pharmacokinetics, circulating biomarker measurements, multivitamin usage, diet or other epidemiological measurements. Sample sizes range from 200 to 8,000 samples per study. A list of recent projects is here.

Gene Expression

 

We have analyzed gene expression in tissue biopsies using both Taqman qRT-PCR and microarray technologies, the latter via the Genomics Shared Resource. We have examined changes in gene expression in adipose tissue as part of a diet and exercise intervention study, in colon tissue biopsies in an aspirin intervention trial, and in colorectal tumor vs. normal tissue. We are also beginning a study looking at miRNA expression in plasma and tissue. A list of recent projects is here.

Tumor Characterization

Analysis of genetic and epigenetic changes in lesional tissue has become critical to many epidemiological studies of cancer. Our current projects include detection of KRAS mutations via sequencing, and BRAF mutations via Taqman and ASPE in colorectal tumor tissue. We also have an ongoing interest in epigenetics, with a current study of CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) status in colorectal adenomas using the MethyLight assay. Future studies will investigate changes in miRNA expression in colorectal tumor tissue and plasma of cancer patients over time. A list of recent projects is here.

Immunology

Current projects include flow cytometric analysis of lymphocyte populations from whole blood, and the isolation of specific B or T cell populations using magnetic bead enrichment and FACS sorting in the Flow Cytometry Shared Resource. A list of recent projects is here.

Investigators interested in working with the Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory should contact Dr. Karen W. Makar at kmakar@fhcrc.org, 206 667 5077

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