Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology
Dr. Liu was a trained Ophthalmologist and received her PhD on Molecular Ophthalmology from Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China. Dr. Liu did her postdoctoral training at the F.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Liu’s previous research was focused on improving the understanding of the genetic causes and the molecular bases of inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs) using a combination of genetically modified animal models and molecular biologic approaches. Her work on photoreceptor sensory cilium and retinitis pigmentosa 1 laid the groundwork for many studies to follow. Her research program is dedicated to gain a better understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying IRDs and related ciliopathies, and to overcome hurdles of conventional AAV-mediated gene augmentation therapy for treating dominant IRDs and recessive IRDs that are caused by mutations in large genes. Her recent studies on the development of CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing strategies provide a start point for facilitating translation of therapeutic gene editing programs into IRD therapies in email@example.com
KTEF Research Investigator and Research Fellow
Affiliations: Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Ophthalmology.
Dr. Nachi Pendse earned his Ph.D. in cell biology studying inherited retinal neurodegenerative diseases and ciliopathies from WVU School of Medicine, USA. Dr. Pendse became a member of the Ocular Genomics Institute in November 2016. His work focuses on use of CRISPR-Cas and HITI based genome engineering to treat the USH2A mediated blinding disease. This study is done in collaboration with Editas Medicine, Cambridge, MA. In 2017, Dr. Pendse was awarded a career startup grant of $140,000 from Knights Templar Eye Foundation for innovative research in ophthalmology. Dr. Pendse is also a co-founder a VC funded start-up SwifTag Systems®, USA that provides unique solutions for better laboratory animal management (www.swiftagsystems.com)
Current projects under supervision of Drs. Liu and Pierce
Project 1: CRISPR/Cas genome editing strategies to treat the USH2A mediated blinding disease.
Collaborator: Editas Medicine, Cambridge, MA
Project 2: Base Editing to improve the safety and efficacy of genetic treatment of IRDs due to mutations in large genes
Collaborator: Dr. David Liu, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Project 3: Development of a rapid and the cost-effective CRISPR-based molecular detection platform- SHERLOCK for detection of a novel myocilin mutation in rural Philippines
Collaborator: Dr. Jenny Wiggs, MEE and Dr. Feng Zhang, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Rossano Butcher graduated from the CAS Honors Program at Suffolk University in 2015, with a Bachelors degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. He worked alongside Dr. Lauren Nolf-Clemets, providing evidence of the Island Rule and microevolution in white-footed mice (Peromyscusleucopus) in the harbor islands off of Boston; and was also involved in Dr. Melanie Berkmen’s novel research on fumarase deficiency, utilizing site-directed mutagenesis to make gene mutations. Most recently, Rossano has been involved in abroad volunteer programs as a medical and laboratory assistant, in places such as Vietnam and Peru.
Rossano joined the Ocular Genomics Institute in April of 2017 as research technologist for Dr. Qin Liu.
Dr. Caitlin Collin earned her Ph.D in developmental biology at the Danish Stem Cell Institute (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), studying how Notch signaling regulates pancreatic development. Caitlin joined the OGI as a postdoctoral researcher in 2017, and now focuses on developing gene therapies for RP1-associated Retinitis Pigmentosa. This disease is not amenable to traditional gene augmentation therapy, due to the large size of the RP1 gene, its dominant inheritance, and its requirement for tight regulation of expression levels. Thus, Dr Collin is exploring multiple therapeutic approaches in collaboration with industry, including novel viral and non-viral delivery methods, CRISPR-Cas based gene editing, and oligonucleotide-based gene editing. This work will also lay the foundation for applications in other IRDs caused by mutations in large genes.
In 2020, Dr Collin was the grateful recipient of the Career Starter Grant from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, for the development of Base Editing and Prime Editing approaches for ABCA4 associated Stargardt disease.Caitlin_Collin@MEEI.HARVARD.EDU
Dr. Andrea D’Amico earned his Ph.D. in Biomedicine Research from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. During his work, he applied his molecular biology skills to study molecular mechanisms of cardiac remodeling in tissue and blood samples of heart failure patients undergoing artificial ventricular assistance. More recently, during his first postdoctoral training, he worked in the laboratory of Dr.Richard Lee at the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology where he used CRISPR/Cas9 to create genetic engineered mouse models to study age-related cardiac hypertrophy.
Andrea joined the Ocular Genomic Institute in April 2018 as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow. He is currently utilizing the CRISPR/Cas9 genomic editing technology alongiside with molecular biologic and biochemical techniques to develop gene therapeutic strategies for the treatment of dominant IRDs.
Anoek Rooijakkers is currently studying Biomedical Sciences at Radboudumc, Nijmegen in the Netherlands. She joined Qin Liu’s lab in February as a student intern to do her final bachelor research.
Anoek is participating in the medical sciences Honours programme at Radboud University, allowing her to do her first research internship abroad. As part of her internship, she will be looking into a potential therapeutic strategy using CRISPR/Cas9 technology for inherited retinal diseases associated with mutations in the peripherin-2 gene.