Nancy Marcus, PhD

I completed my B.Sc. at TWU in 2004, and continued on to pursue a PhD at SFU working under adjunct professor Dr. Eve Stringham. As a Canada Research Chair, Dr. Stringham has been able to bring world class research to TWU, and I have had the opportunity to be at the forefront of current research by studying in her lab. Through my graduate work, I was provided exceptional mentorship, and at the same time I was able to give back by providing supervision and mentorship to undergraduate students. I graduated with my PhD in the spring of 2012, and am currently working as a researcher and laboratory instructor at TWU.

My studies examined the role of the unc-53 gene in migration in the soil nemtode C. elegans. Cell migration and nerve cell outgrowth are essential processes required for the proper development of multicellular organisms. The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans is an ideal model organism for studying migrations for several reasons including its sequenced genome, limited but invariant cell lineage, and amenability to genetic analysis. In my studies I have chosen to focus on the excretory cell, the worm’s functional equivalent to the human kidney, as it provides an excellent in vivo model to study the role of cell migration and outgrowth in the development of a simple organ. It is the largest single cell in the worm and morphological defects can be easily viewed by microscopy. The excretory cell body sends out two connected canals that run the entire length of the body. The leading edges of the growing canals resemble growth cones in that they must be able to sense and integrate directional cues in both the dorsoventral and anteroposterior axes. The gene unc-53is required for the guidance and extension of the excretory canals, and by RNA interference and genetics my thesis elucidated genetic interactors of UNC-53 in this longitudinal cell extension.