Cat geneticist featured in HudsonAlpha seminar

Leslie Lyons, PhD, of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., will presented “Cat genomes and their biomedical models” at a HudsonAlpha Research Seminar on February 14.

Dr. Leslie Lyons was trained in human genetics, and her postdoctoral fellowship focused on developing genetic resources for comparative gene mapping across mammalian species. Her research is currently primarily focused on heritable diseases and traits and the population dynamics of the domestic cat. Specific diseases remain of high priority, including polycystic kidney disease (PKD), skin abnormalities, structural defects, and heritable blindness. An expectation of the research is to develop drug and gene therapies and translational efforts, for one or more of these abnormalities to better develop the cat as an animal model for human disease. Dr. Lyons has also supported the community by providing DNA studies for the first cloned domestic cat, wildcat, and Sand Cat, and the GFP transgenic cat. Her laboratory has identified over 30 mutations in 21 genes including many diseases (10), several coat colors (9), several fur types (4), and cat AB / B blood type (2). Dr. Lyons recently launched the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Initiative – an effort to have deep coverage sequencing of cats with inherited diseases and as a SNP resource for the community. Dr. Lyons has 3 patents and 119 peer-reviewed publications, including several in forensic journals. Her work on cat population genetics was developed into a National Geographic Explorer episode “The Science of Cats” and she has worked with the BBC on several cat television productions.

Greg Barsh, MD, PhD, hosted the Wednesday seminar. More information about HudsonAlpha Research Seminars, including an upcoming schedule, can be found at hudsonalpha.org/seminars.