The Van Raamsdonk lab at UBC

Department of Medical GeneticS
Life Sciences Institute

Van Raamsdonk lab

Hi! Welcome to the Van Raamsdonk lab at UBC. This lab is led by Dr. Catherine Van Raamsdonk in the Department of Medical Genetics and is located in the Life Sciences Institute in Vancouver BC.

Our lab studies  the molecular steps that transform normal melanocytes into melanoma.  The development of cancer is a complex, multi-step process that is slightly different in every human patient. Our general approach is to model the disease in a simplified system and then compare our findings to humans. We use genetically modified mice that develop melanoma or other pigmentary disorders.

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Current research questions

The origin of ocular melanocytes

Melanocytes are the pigment producing cells in mammals. They arise during embryogenesis from multi-potent neural crest cells near the spine and brain. How and when do they migrate into the eyes? What is their developmental lineage with respect to schwann cells and neurons?

Molecular analysis of uveal melanoma

Uveal melanoma is the most common ocular cancer. It arises from melanocytes that reside in the choroid, ciliary body and iris of the eye. What are the transcriptional signatures that are associated with uveal melanoma? How closely does the proteome (proteins) match the transcriptome (RNA)? What is the role of the immune system in shaping these signatures?

The GNAQ oncogene

The GNAQ and GNA11 oncogenes drive the transformation and proliferation of internal melanocytes: those in the eyes, dermis and central nervous system. What blocks these oncogenes from transforming melanocytes on the surface of the body? Could that same pathway be manipulated to treat internally occurring melanomas?

About us

We are members of the department of Medical Genetics and the Life Sciences Institute at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Our research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. We are active in the PASPCR, a society devoted to melanocytes. Welcome to our website!

Talk to us

Have any questions? Let’s talk about science!