Vanderhyden Lab

Barbara Vanderhyden profile picture

Contact Information

Barbara Vanderhyden, PhD
613-737-7700 ext. 70330
bvanderhyden@ohri.ca

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Centre for Cancer Therapeutics
501 Smyth Road
Box 926
Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6

Barbara Vanderhyden

Senior Scientist, Cancer Therapeutics Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Corinne Boyer Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research
University of Ottawa
Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
University of Ottawa

Research Interests

Mouse Models of Ovarian Cancer
Animal models that spontaneously develop cancer enable us to understand the process of tumour formation and aid the investigation of novel prevention and treatment strategies. Currently, there are few mammalian models of ovarian cancer, which greatly hinders the ability to test novel therapeutics in a physiologically relevant manner. We are using transgenic and syngeneic mouse models of ovarian cancer to investigate the early events associated with tumour initiation, the impact of BRCA1 and hormones on disease progression, and the testing of novel therapeutics, including oncolytic viruses. Additional aims of this work are to determine genetic alterations that are oncogenic in oviductal and ovarian surface epithelium and to generate models of ovarian cancer using a variety of strategies, including cell-specific expression of oncogenic signals, the Cre-lox system for conditional expression, and intra-bursal injection of adenoviral vectors.

Progenitor cells in the ovarian surface epithelium
Stem/progenitor cells in a variety of tissues have been found to play a role in tissue wound repair.  We have identified a unique subset of mouse ovarian surface epithelial cells that have progenitor cell characteristics and that we hypothesize play a role in ovulatory wound repair.  We are investigating the mechanisms by which these cells are regulated in number and function during ovulation and exploring if these cells are more susceptible to transformation into cancer cells.

Chromatin remodelling proteins involved in cellular differentiation
The switch from a proliferative to a differentiated state requires changes in gene expression that are dependent on chromatin remodelling within the nucleus. ISWI or SWI2/SNF2 proteins constitute the catalytic subunit of chromatin remodelling complexes that alter nucleosome positioning to regulate gene expression. We are investigating the expression and function of Snf2h and Snf2l, chromatin remodelling proteins that seem to play a role in regulating cellular proliferation vs. differentiation in reproductive tissues. As normal differentiation of cells is essential for female fertility, this project aims to determine the role of Snf2h and Snf2l in embryonic development, follicle growth, corpus luteum formation and placental function. We are also investigating the function of these proteins in ovarian cancer cells.

Brief Biography

Barbara Vanderhyden completed her Ph.D. in Reproductive Physiology at the University of Western Ontario in 1988.  She then did postdoctoral studies at The Jackson Laboratory in Maine, where she learned to climb mountains, both literally and scientifically.  In 1991, she joined the Cancer Research Group at the University of Ottawa, which has evolved into the Cancer Therapeutics Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, where she is a Senior Scientist.  Dr. Vanderhyden is also a Professor at the University of Ottawa and has held the inaugural Corinne Boyer Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research since 2000.  She established and ran the university’s transgenic mouse facility for 14 years.  In her spare time, she established and oversees two science outreach programs, Let’s Talk Science / Parlons sciences, which makes science fun for students in local schools, and Science Travels / La science voyage, which sends teams of grad students to deliver science workshops in remote First Nations and Inuit communities in the far north.

Selected Publications

Al-Hujaily EM, Y Tang, D-S Yao, E Carmona, K Garson and BC Vanderhyden (2015). Divergent roles of PAX2 in the etiology and progression of ovarian cancer. Cancer Prev. Res. 8: 1163-1173.

Garson K and Vanderhyden BC (2015). Epithelial ovarian cancer stem cells: underlying complexity of a simple paradigm. Reproduction. 149: 59-70

McCloskey CW, Goldberg RL, Carter LE, Gamwell LF, Al-Hujaily EM, Collins O, Macdonald EA, Garson K, Daneshmand M, Carmona E and Vanderhyden BC (2014). A new spontaneously transformed syngeneic model of high-grade serous ovarian cancer with a tumor-initiating cell population. Front Oncol. 4: 53.

Laviolette LA, Hodgkinson KM, Minhas N, Perez-Iratxeta C, Vanderhyden BC (2014). 17β-estradiol upregulates GREB1 and accelerates ovarian tumour progression in vivo.  Int. J. Cancer. Jan 27. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28741.

Gamwell LF, M Merziotis, K Gambaro, SL Arcand, V Snoulten, C Davis, JA Squire, DL Huntsman, PN Tonin and BC Vanderhyden (2013). Characterization of a small cell ovarian cancer cell line:  Genomic anomalies and responsiveness to therapeutics. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 8: 33.

Diseases, conditions and populations of interest


Cancer; Infertility; Ovarian cancer; Women's health



Research and clinical approaches


Basic research; Bioinformatics; Biomarkers; Disease models; Drug development; Epigenetics; Epigenetics; Gene expression; Genomics; Immunotherapy; Model organisms; Molecular and cellular biology; Transgenic/knockout models; Translational research; Viral therapy