Canada Research Chair in Chemical and Functional Genomics
Tier 2 - 2005-07-01
University of Ottawa
613-562-5800 ext./poste 8592
Carrying out a systematic identification of gene and protein functions required to maintain genome stability.
The research is improving our understanding of cancer and developing new cancer therapies.
Brewers' Yeast - Helping to Cure What "Ales" You
The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that there will be 145,500 new cases of cancer and 68,300 deaths from cancer in Canada in 2004 and roughly one out of every four Canadians will die of the disease. These statistics emphasize the importance of basic research into the molecular mechanisms of cancer progression.
Scientists have found chromosome gain or loss in nearly all major human tumour types. Canada Research Chair Dr. Kristin Baetz explores the genetic and molecular basis for chromosomal instability. Using genomic technologies, she is identifying the networks of proteins required for chromosome stability in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Why is Baetz using the yeast we commonly use for brewing beer to study cancer? Because the basic cellular functions of yeast are nearly identical to those of humans. If we understand the function of protein in yeast, we'll be a lot closer to understanding its function in mammalian cells.
In addition, yeast has been the model organism for the development of functional genomic techniques that allow for the assessment of all protein function within a cell. Thus, yeast is recognized as a powerful substitute model organism for the study of mammalian cancer biology.
Baetz's current research project involves developing and implementing yeast chemical and functional genomic screens in order to assess which of yeast's 6,000 proteins play a role in maintaining chromosome balance in the cell. Once the proteins that are required for chromosome stability are identified, she and her research team will use traditional methods drawn from biochemistry and molecular biology to reveal the molecular mechanisms used by these proteins to prevent chromosome loss.