Julie Wells, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Research into lung development and role of miRNAs to better understand cancer, other lung diseases.

My research focuses on the regulation of gene expression during lung development and in disease. Recent research projects include measuring gene expression in the lungs of three strains of mice during development from embryonic day E9.5 to maturity at 8 weeks of age and developing a new technique to identify direct messenger RNA (mRNA) targets of microRNAs (miRNAs). I am using a new technique, referred to as RIP-SIR, to study miRNA regulated gene expression during the progression of pulmonary adenocarcinoma in two mouse models. In a related project, serum samples collected from these lung tumor-bearing mice were analyzed to identify expression profiles of circulating miRNAs that may indicate the presence of early stage pulmonary adenocarcinoma. A new project is expanding upon this work and using patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mice to answer basic questions about which miRNAs are secreted from tumors and enter the circulatory system. Finally, as a member of a collaborative group headed by Dr. Patricia Donahoe, I am investigating gene expression in the developing mouse diaphragm and determining how novel mutations identified by this group contribute to congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a condition that is often associated with a fatal respiratory phenotype.

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Awards, honors and accomplishments

2004 - Tosteson Postdoctoral Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital 

2000 - AFLAC Travel Award recipient to attend AACR special conference, Genetic and Functional Consequences of Cell Cycle Alteration in Cancer

1996-2001 - Post-doctoral Fellowship, Department of Oncology, University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School 

1996 - NIH Travel grant award recipient to attend Keystone Symposia on The Cell Cycle 

1991-1996 - Environmental Pathology Fellowship, Department of Pathology, University of Vermont School of Medicine 

1990-1991 - Research Fellowship, University of Vermont Graduate College