James Ellis,The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto (Canada)
Dr. Ellis was appointed Research Integrity Advisor at the Hospital for Sick Children in October 2013 and became a member of the Telethon Scientific Committee in 2015.
Dr. Ellis completed his BSc at McGill University and his PhD at the University of Toronto with Dr. Alan Bernstein developing retrovirus vectors for gene targeting. His Post-Doctoral Fellowship studying the beta-globin Locus Control Region was mentored by Dr. Frank Grosveld in London UK.
Dr. Ellis established his own research team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in 1994 with a focus on gene therapy for Sickle Cell Anemia. His first goal was to generate safe and effective retrovirus and lentivirus vectors for manipulating stem cells for molecular medicine.
Stem cells silence viral vectors by compacting DNA into inaccessible chromatin structures. We studied these silencing mechanisms and designed vectors with insulator elements that resist silencing. We developed MECP2 vectors for gene therapy of Rett syndrome, and vectors with reporter genes that mark specific cell types. For example, our EOS vectors express specifically in pluripotent stem cells and facilitate generation of patient induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells.
The Ellis team currently uses these iPS cells to model Rett syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Williams Beuren syndrome. In addition, we perform drug screens on patient iPS cell derived cells to exploit their potential to discover personalized medicines. Dr. Ellis was appointed Research Integrity Advisor at the Hospital for Sick Children in October 2013 and became a member of the Telethon Scientific Committee in 2016.