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Dr. Jan M. Friedman (Professor/Principal Investigator)

My research bridges clinical genetics and basic science. Our lab's work is focused in three major areas: (1) application of advanced genomic technology to identifying the causes of intellectual disability; (2) using genetic epidemiology to elucidate the pathogenesis of neurofibromatosis 1 and 2; and (3) development of a knowledge base on human teratogenic risks resulting from maternal treatment with various medications during pregnancy. I am also interested in the societal implications of genetics and am collaborating in several projects studying various social, economic, and ethical aspects of clinical application of new genomic technology.

Dr. J.M. Friedman's full CV (pdf)


*Patricia Birch, MSc, RN (Clinical Associate Professor/Lab Manager)

Patricia is lab manager and researcher. Her past career includes obstetrical and outpost nursing; genetic counselling; and projects in HIV, SARS, and avian influenza. In the Friedman Lab, she has worked extensively on neurofibromatosis research. Current interests also include communication of complex genomic concepts in meaningful ways to the general public and to parents of children who are considering genome-wide sequencing.

*Liza Mak, BBA (Lab Administrator)

Liza provides administrative support to the Friedman Lab and BC Clinical Genomics Network. She was trained as an executive secretary in Hong Kong and earned her BBA from Simon Fraser University. Before joining the Lab in 2008, Liza worked in a bank for several years.

Shelin Adam, MSc (Clinical Assistant Professor/Research Genetic Counsellor)

Shelin is a research genetic counsellor with a BSc. in Genetics and a MSc. in Genetic Counselling, both from McGill University. Shelin has clinical experience in genetic and psychological counselling, but has worked in clinical research for most of her career. She was Coordinator of the Canadian Predictive Testing Program for Huntington Disease, and more recently she has been involved in studies using new genomic technologies like microArray Comparative Genomic Hybridization and high throughput Whole Exome Sequencing. She is currently the Coordinator of the BC Clinical Genomics Network, whose aim is to introduce clinicians to genomic research using the new technologies.

Alison M. Elliott, PhD, MS, CGC (Clinical Associate Professor)

Alison is a PhD geneticist and certified genetic counsellor who is the Project Lead for CAUSES Research Clinic, which provides diagnostic genome-wide sequencing for children in British Columbia with undiagnosed illnesses. Alison is Co-Lead of RAPIDOMICS, a pilot research program involving rapid genomic sequencing of neonatal patients with suspected genetic disorders. Alison is interested in genetic counselling issues surrounding genomic sequencing and health implementation research.

Kris Roberts (Program Manager)

Kris is completing her Masters in Public Health and is doing an extended practicum in the Friedman Lab. Her expertise is in new modes of e-learning and communication, including social media. She is an APOGEE\Cangène scholarship awardee who has developed and tested a novel e-learning platform for pharmacogenomics and is currently working on a second module for direct-to-consumer testing.

Sura Alwan, PhD, MSc (Research Associate)

Sura is a birth defects epidemiologist and teratologist, who is interested in identifying exposures in pregnancy that may pose a risk to the developing fetus and contribute to causing birth defects and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. She is specifically interested in studying the effect of maternal chronic diseases and associated medications taken during pregnancy on baby's health. Currently, she is coordinating referrals of pregnant women to MotherToBaby, a service of the non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), dedicated to providing evidence-based information to mothers, health care professionals, and the general public about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Nick Dragojlovic, PhD, MA (Research Associate)

Nick is conducting an evaluation of the economic and societal impact of obtaining a diagnosis through genome-wide sequencing as part of the CAUSES Clinic. He is a Research Associate in the Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) unit at UBC's Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, where he previously completed a postdoctoral fellowship (2013-2015) funded by awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Farah Zahir, PhD (Post-doctoral Fellow)

Farah researches the pathogenicity of Intellectual Disability in children. She has focused her studies on elucidating genotype-phenotype correlations for small genetic changes found in these children identified via array genomic hybridization. In addition she is also interested in how epigenetic regulatory imbalance affects neurodevelopment. Currently she is working on using next generation sequencing technologies to identify sequence mutations causative for ID and spends her time at the Friedman lab and the BC Genome Sciences Center where she works with Dr. Marco Marra. She completed her PhD from the University of British Columbia in 2011. She holds a B.Sc. in Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology from Bangalore University, India. She previously worked in community development and disaster relief with the UN World Food Program, teaching, and agro-business in her native Sri Lanka. She is an avid cricket and chess player as well as outdoor enthusiast.

Hilal Al Shekaili, MSc (PhD Candidate)

Hilal has a masters degree in biology from Sultan Qaboos University, in Oman, where his research was in micro-satellite genotyping of three critical genes related to sporadic breast cancer. He has additional training in bioinformatics, population genetics and statistical genetics from the University of Bologna, Italy. Hilal's PhD in the Friedman Lab relates to characterization of genes involved in some autosomal recessive neurodegenerative conditions.

Madeline Couse, BSc (MSc Candidate)

Madeline is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Science in Genome Science and Technology at in the Friedman lab. She completed an Honours B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Waterloo (UW) in 2013 with an undergraduate thesis in aquatic ecology. The following year, she shifted focus and worked in a nano-biotechnology lab at UW, developing microfluidic assays for hereditary hemochromatosis diagnosis. Currently, she is analyzing non-coding genetic variants in patients with intellectual disability. Her objective is to identify regulatory variants, such as those residing in gene promoters and enhancers, that contribute to intellectual disability pathogenesis.

Laura Sellmer, BSc (MSc Candidate)

Laura completed her undergraduate degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, where she wrote her thesis on the molecular changes in breast cancer after treatment with different anti-cancer drugs. Through an exchange program she had the opportunity to spend three months at McGill University, and afterwards she decided to pursue graduate studies in Canada. She is currently working on a Master's degree in Medical Genetics with Dr. Jan Friedman and is focusing on gliomas and learning difficulties in neurofibromatosis 1.

Rachel Coe (Project Assistant)

Rachel is pursuing her Bachelor of Science is Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. Rachel is working on the DECIDE project, studying the utility of an online decision-making tool about genome-wide sequencing and incidental findings. She is also involved in the CAUSES Clinic, where she manages the project's databases.

Kallie Hu (Project Assistant)

Kallie is a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Cognitive Systems and minoring in Commerce at the University of British Columbia. In the Friedman Lab, she is currently working on the Epilepsy and Genomics study on determining the effectiveness of a new online decision making tool called DECIDE, which aims to educate and assist parents in deciding to undergo Whole Exome Sequencing for their children.

Dallas Genereaux, BSc (Project Assistant)

Dallas is currently working on adapting and implementing a health economic survey to calculate the parental and societal costs of raising a child with a chronic illness. She has previously worked with clinical studies in both Type 1 diabetes and adolescent mental health, and she enjoys learning about the many aspects of research. Dallas received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of British Columbia.

Ashley Port, MS (Project Assistant)

Ashley has been working on the OPTION project, which examines the use of shared decision making in prenatal genetic counseling sessions. She is also a member of the education and communications team at Genome British Columbia where she coordinates a volunteer program for local high schools and also directs Genome BC's summer camps. She completed her BS in Biology in 2009 at Grand Valley State University in Michigan and her MS in genetic counseling in 2014 at Wayne State University in Michigan.

Martina Vortel, BA&Sc (Project Assistant)

Martina holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science from McGill University with a Major in Molecular Biology. She has been working on the OPTION study, which examines the use of shared decision making in prenatal genetic counselling sessions. After gaining work experience in the community health field, she intends to pursue a graduate degree in bioethics and health policy.

Nancy Makela, BSc, RN (Research Nurse)

Nancy is a research nurse who is currently working on a Health Technology Assessment project looking at the health care and heath policy challenges in genetic laboratory services. Her past experiences includes working on research projects involving HIV, SARS, and Avian Influenza in various cities with locations in hospitals, prisons, clinics and trailers in fields. She spent many years doing clinical trials and before that she enjoyed hospital and community nursing.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Friedman Lab
Box 153, 4500 Oak Street
Vancouver, BC, V6H 3N1


Fax:604.875.3019

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