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8 March, 2017 - 01:08 By Kate Sweeney

Stars earn stripes on transatlantic Cambridge Epigenetix SAB

shankar balasubramanian, cegx, gv

Cambridge Epigenetix, a pioneer in the development and application of epigenetic technologies, has formed a star-studded transatlantic Scientific Advisory Board.

It comprises experts for Cambridge Epigenetix’s key focus areas, including oncology, liquid biopsy and ageing.

They form a key strategic resource and provide their unique research perspectives as the company transitions towards becoming an integrated commercial epigenetic biomarker discovery venture. 

Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, the company’s co-founder and inventor of the company’s  initial proprietary ‘TruMethyl’ technology, will chair the SAB. He is the Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and recognised for his research contributions to the chemical biology of nucleic acids and the genome.

He was a founder of Solexa Ltd and co-inventor of the basic technology underpinning Solexa sequencing, which is the basis of Illumina’s dominant next-generation DNA sequencing business.

His research group is based at both the Department of Chemistry and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute. His recent awards include the Royal Society Mullard Award (2009), The BBSRC Innovator of the year (2010) and the Tetrahedron Prize (2013). He is a Fellow of The Royal Society, The Academy of Medical Sciences and a member of EMBO.

Also on the SAB is Wolf Reik, who has been a scientific adviser since the company’s founding in 2012; he is head of the epigenetics programme at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge and its associate director. He is honorary Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge and Associate Faculty at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where he is a founding member of the recently established Centre for Single Cell Genomics.

Wolf Reik is a member of EMBO, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the Academia Europaea. His research interests are in epigenetics, particularly in epigenetic reprogramming during mammalian development and its role in stem cell biology and inheritance.

His current work addresses the mechanisms of genome-wide demethylation in the mammalian germ line, links between reprogramming and pluripotency, the potential for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, and the role of epigenetic mechanisms in experimental reprogramming. His lab also develops new epigenomics technologies especially in single cells.

Anjana Rao is Professor and head of the Division of Signalling and Gene Expression at the La Jolla Institute and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in San Diego.

She moved her laboratory from Harvard Medical School to San Diego in 2011. Professor Rao’s team was the first to identify the role of the ten-eleven translocation family of proteins in epigenetic regulation through the conversion of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). She is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Jay Shendure is Professor of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, where his lab's focus is to develop and apply new technologies in genomics and molecular biology, with an emphasis on next-generation DNA sequencing and its applications in human genetics.

In addition to pioneering the application of liquid biopsies to identify the contributions of cancerous cells and foetal anomalies, Professor Shendure’s team at the University of Washington reported the first haplotype-resolved genome and epigenome of a human cancer.

He is the recipient of the Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics in 2012, the FederaPrijs from the Federation of Dutch Medical Scientific Societies in 2013, and a National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award in 2013.

Dr Jason Mellad, CEO at Cambridge Epigenetix, said: “Cambridge Epigenetix is committed to making a significant impact in healthcare and we are delighted to have secured such eminent SAB members. Their expertise will further help us in supporting our customers to unlock the tremendous potential of epigenetic analysis and biomarker discovery.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian

Kiss Communications

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