Faculty in Connecticut

A growing roster of new Laboratory scientists, technicians and administrators already are working in temporary space at the University of Connecticut Health Center campus. As of mid-April, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine had a payroll of more than 90 full-time employees, with additional contracts and applications under review. Recruitment of scientific and administrative staff will continue as construction of the new facility proceeds. By 2020, JAX Genomic Medicine will employ at least 300 scientists, technicians and support staff.

The Jackson Laboratory recruits from a global network of top-level researchers, and its new genomics institute continues to attract the attention of accomplished and ambitious scientists. The following principal investigators are among the scientific staff already in place at JAX Genomic Medicine.

Edison T. Liu, M.D.

Edison T. Liu, M.D., president and CEO, The Jackson Laboratory

Dr. Liu’s scientific research focuses on the functional genomics of human cancers, investigating the dynamics of gene regulation on a genome scale that modulates cancer biology.

His laboratory investigates the expression signatures in breast cancers that define biochemical and genetic perturbations as well as the transcriptional regulation of estrogen receptors on a genomic scale.

Dr. Liu’s work spans cancer biology, genomics, human genetics and molecular epidemiology.

Dr.  Liu's background:

  • B.S. from  Stanford University
  • M.D. from Stanford University
  • Internship and residency at Washington University, St. Louis
  • Postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco
  • Named president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory in 2012
Charles Lee Ph.D.

Charles Lee, Ph.D., director, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

Dr. Lee joins JAX Genomic Medicine from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. He is best known for his discovery that copy-number variation—a state in which cells have an abnormal number of DNA sections, sometimes associated with susceptibility or resistance to disease—is widespread and significant in the human genome. This discovery, and his subsequent research, has provided tools that clinicians use to help them make accurate diagnoses for genetic testing of conditions such as autism, birth defects and cancer.

Dr. Lee has received numerous accolades and awards for his research into the human genome, including the 2008 Ho-Am Prize in Medicine, often referred to as the Korean version of the Nobel Prize, and a Chen Global Investigator award from the International Human Genome Organization. He is also an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Lee is responsible for the scientific direction and coordination of JAX Genomic Medicine.

Dr.  Lee's background:

  • B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from University of Alberta
  • Research fellowships at Cambridge University and Harvard Medical School
  • Research and faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital
Yijun Ruan, Ph.D.

Yijun Ruan, Ph.D., professor and director of JAX genomic sciences

Dr. Ruan’s primary interest is to elucidate the structures and dynamics of all functional DNA elements in complex genomes.

Using concepts and computational tools developed for social networks, researchers in his laboratory have recently visualized how the genome appears to organize genes with related functions into certain communities within a large-scale, three-dimensional network.

Dr. Ruan’s lab also is applying genome sequencing-based measurements to address complex biological questions such as how cancer cells progress and how stem cells maintain their unique properties.

Dr. Ruan’s background:

  • B.S. and M.S. from Huazhong Agricultural University
  • Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park
  • Postdoctoral studies at the University of Maryland, College Park

Frank McKeon, Ph.D.

Frank McKeon, Ph.D., professor and director of JAX quantitative cell biology

Dr. McKeon is building a technology platform to address human disease at the level of adult or tissue-specific stem cells.

Using this platform together with mouse genetics and human genomics, he has identified the stem cells that underlie lung regeneration following influenza infection, the cell-of-origin of highly lethal gastrointestinal cancers, and the regional specificity of stem cells in human organs.

Dr. McKeon’s background:

  • B.A. from Pomona College
  • Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco
  • Postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco

Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D.

Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D., professor and director of immunological sciences

An internationally prominent immunologist, Dr. Banchereau was founding director of the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas, Texas, held the Caruth Chair for Transplantation Immunology at the Baylor Research Institute, and most recently was chief scientific officer of the Nutley, N.J., campus, senior vice president and head of the inflammation and virology discovery and translational areas at Hoffmann-La Roche, the global pharmaceutical company.

In his new role, Banchereau will focus on building on the historical base of immunological research at The Jackson Laboratory led by Nobel Laureate George Snell, and will expand the program across all three JAX campuses. He will lead the recruitment of new immunological investigators and will pursue areas of medical importance such as cancer immunobiology, autoimmunity and host response to infectious diseases.

Dr. Banchereau’s background:

  • B.S. from the University of Angers, France
  • Ph.D. from the University of Paris, France
  • Postdoctoral work at Schering-Plough France

George Weinstock, Ph.D.

George Weinstock, Ph.D., professor and associate director for microbial genomics

A pioneer in the sequencing and genomic analysis of humans, model organisms and microbes, Dr. Weinstock joins the faculty of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine as professor and associate director for Microbial Genomics.

Dr. Weinstock is a leader of the Human Microbiome Project, an international effort to apply and develop the latest technologies to comprehensively characterize the large and genetically varied population of microorganisms that inhabit the human body and significantly impact human health.

He comes to The Jackson Laboratory from Washington University in St. Louis, where he has been associate director of the university's Genome Institute as well as professor of genetics and professor of molecular microbiology since 2008. Before that he was co-director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics there.

Dr. Weinstock's background:

  • B.S. from University of Michigan
  • Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Postdoctoral studies at Stanford University Medical School

Karolina Palucka, Ph.D.

Karolina Palucka, Ph.D., professor and associate director of cancer immunology

Internationally recognized clinical oncologist and cancer immunologist A. Karolina Palucka joins The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine as professor and associate director of cancer immunology.

Palucka is a leader in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Her research exploits dendritic cells, which control the body’s immune response to tumors, as the basis for new vaccines against melanomas and other human cancers.

Prior to joining JAX, Palucka was the Michael A.E. Ramsay Chair for Cancer Immunology Research and director of the Ralph M. Steinman Center for Cancer Vaccines at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas, where she was principal investigator of a large research award from the Human Immunology Project Consortium. She is also professor of oncological sciences and clinical immunology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Dr. Palucka's background:

  • M.D. from Warsaw Medical Academy, Poland
  • Ph.D. from Karolinska Institute, Sweden
  • Postdoctoral fellowship at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, France

Reinhard Laubenbacher, Ph.D.

Reinhard Laubenbacher, Ph.D., professor of computational biology

An accomplished and internationally recognized mathematician and systems biologist, Dr. Laubenbacher holds the first joint academic appointment with the University of Connecticut Health Center and JAX Genomic Medicine.

As the co-director of the health center's new Center for Quantitative Medicine, his focus is on implementing mathematical algorithms and related software to support research connected to biomedical problems, including genomic and other approaches to personalized medicine.

Dr. Laubenbacher's background:

  • Vordiplom from University of Munich
  • M.A. from Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Ph.D. from Northwestern University
Jeffrey Chuang, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Chuang, Ph.D., associate professor of computational biology

Dr. Chuang is interested in computational and mathematical approaches to analyzing large DNA sequencing data sources in order to understand how genomes function and to make these findings clinically relevant to human health.

His lab is developing projects in human and mouse genetics, cancer, epigenetics and RNA biology.

Some of Dr. Chuang’s more specific interests include evolutionary processes in cancer, regulatory sequences within RNA and developmental enhancers.

Dr. Chuang’s background:

  • B.S. from Harvard University
  • Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco

Wa Xian, Ph.D.

Wa Xian, Ph.D., assistant professor

Dr. Xian has investigated the cellular origins and progression of high-grade ovarian cancers and is advancing her research on adult stem cells and precursor lesions of lethal cancers.

Dr. Xian’s background:

  • B.S. from Nankai University
  • Ph.D. from University of Texas, Houston
  • Postdoctoral studies at Baylor College of Medicine
Zhengqing Ouyang, Ph.D.

Zhengqing Ouyang, Ph.D. , assistant professor

Dr. Ouyang’s research program will focus on using computational and statistical methods to investigate genome regulatory mechanisms in both normal and disease states.

He will also develop bioinformatics software for genome data analysis and modeling.

Dr. Ouyang’s background:

  • B.S. from Peking University
  • Ph.D. from Stanford University
  • Postdoctoral studies at Stanford University
ucar

Duygu Ucar, Ph.D., assistant professor

Dr. Ucar is a computational scientist who studies the dynamic regulation of gene expression.

She is particularly interested in the interaction between epigenetic chromatin states and gene regulatory elements for the control of gene expression.

She develops algorithms to integrate and mine genetic and epigenetic datasets.

Dr. Ucar's background:

  • B.S. from Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey
  • Ph.D. from Ohio State University
  • Postdoctoral studies at the University of Iowa and Stanford University
Michael Stitzel, Ph.D.

Michael L. Stitzel, Ph.D., assistant professor

Dr. Stitzel studies the genetics and epigenetics of islet dysfunction and type 2 diabetes.

His work has suggested that DNA changes associated with genetic susceptibility to type 2 diabetes are located in molecular switches that turn islet genes on or off.

Dr. Stitzel’s background:

  • B.S. from Pennsylvania State University
  • Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University
  • Postdoctoral studies at the National Human Genome Research Institute
Adam Williams, Ph.D.

Adam Williams, Ph.D., assistant professor

Dr. Williams studies immune cell function with respect to treating asthma.

He investigates the role of molecules known as non-coding RNAs in regulating gene expression relating to immune cell function—in particular, a category of immune cells known as CD4+ T cells

Dr. Williams' background:

  • B.S. from Cardiff University
  • Ph.D. from University College London and the London-based MRC National Institute for Medical Research

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