James Ellis

James Ellis

Lead Scientist
Cell Reprogramming Platform

James Ellis
Senior Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology,

Hospital for Sick Children, Canada

Dr. Ellis completed his BSc at McGill University in 1984 and his PhD at the University of Toronto in 1990 developing retrovirus vectors for gene targeting. His Post-Doctoral Fellowship studying the beta-globin Locus Control Region was mentored by Dr. Frank Grosveld at the NIMR in London UK.

Dr. Ellis established his own research team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in 1994. The research theme in the Ellis Lab is to generate safe and effective retrovirus and lentivirus vectors for manipulating stem cells during regenerative medicine. Stem cells silence viral vectors by compacting DNA into inaccessible chromatin structures. We study these silencing mechanisms and design vectors with insulator elements that resist silencing. We develop vectors with reporter genes that mark specific cell types, such as our EOS vectors that express highly in pluripotent stem cells but extinguish during differentiation. These EOS vectors have applications to facilitate the generation of induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells, for enhancing directed differentiation protocols, and for ablating undifferentiated cells to prevent teratoma formation after transplantation. The Ellis team is currently modeling Rett Syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders, cystic fibrosis and cardiac disease using mouse and patient specific iPS cells. These cells may have applications for novel drug screens and regenerative medicine.

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