Discovery Centers

UW Medicine

Allen Discovery Center at UW Medicine

Cell Lineage Tracing

Scientists have been asking questions about the ancestry and lineage of cells for over a century, but tracing the relationships between generations of cells has faced significant technical challenges. In the past several years, teams led by Jay Shendure, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Washington, Michael Elowitz, Ph.D., and Long Cai, Ph.D., at Caltech and Alex Schier, Ph.D., at Harvard have created new technologies that take advantage of modern gene editing methods to effectively trace cells as they divide, move and differentiate throughout an organism’s development.

The Allen Discovery Center for Cell Lineage Tracing will use these new technologies and paradigms to develop lineage maps for the zebrafish and mouse – the first global maps of development in any vertebrate. They will also develop genomic systems to record the molecular events that regulate development. The Center’s other investigators are Carlos Lois, Ph.D., at Caltech and Marshall Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D., UW professor of Pathology, and Cole Trapnell, Ph.D., UW assistant professor of Genome Sciences. 

Jay Shendure, M.D., Ph.D.

Jay Shendure is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. His 2005 PhD included one of the first successful demonstrations of massively parallel or next generation DNA sequencing. Dr. Shendure's research group in Seattle pioneered exome sequencing and its earliest applications to gene discovery for Mendelian disorders (e.g. Miller and Kabuki syndrome) and autism; cell-free DNA diagnostics for cancer and reproductive medicine; molecular profiling of single cells; massively parallel reporter assays and saturation genome editing; and whole organism lineage tracing. He is the recipient of the 2012 Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics, the 2013 FEDERAprijs, a 2013 NIH Director's Pioneer Award, and the 2014 HudsonAlpha Life Sciences Prize. He serves or has served on the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, its Working Group on the US Precision Medicine Initiative, and the National Human Genome Research Advisory Council.

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