Vanderhyden Lab

Barbara Vanderhyden profile picture

Contact Information

Barbara Vanderhyden, PhD
613-737-7700 ext. 70330

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

Research Activities

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.