Lian Willetts

Instructor

Cell Biology & Anatomy

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Contact information

Phone

Office : 403.210.8881

Web presence

PubMed


Biography

Lian completed her Ph.D. in Experimental Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. James Lee (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic Arizona, USA), and Dr. Redwan Moqbel (Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta, Canada) in 2012. Her research work focused on the generation and application of transgenic mouse-based models to investigate eosinophil degranulation in allergic airway diseases (e.g. asthma). She generated a strain of transgenic mice which lacks the Vesicle Associated Membrane Protein-7 (VAMP-7) only in their eosinophils. Using this model, the role of membrane fusion proteins (e.g. V/R-SNAREs) in eosinophils and their impact on pathophysiological development of asthma can be measured and analyzed.

In 2013, Lian was recruited as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Oncology at the University of Alberta and the Alberta Prostate Cancer Research Initiative (APCaRI) supervised by Dr. John Lewis. Her research focused on the mechanism of cancer metastasis and clinical applications in the diagnosis and prognosis of metastasis. Lian and her team combined intravital “live cancer” imaging and model-based research to screen for biomarkers (e.g. microRNAs, proteins, and extracellular vesicles) of cancer metastasis. The project has identified several target-patterns with diagnostic, prognostic, and potential therapeutic value.

Lian has won several prestigious awards for her work, including Postdoctoral Fellowship from the United States Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Program. She was awarded the silver medal at the 2015 International Falling Walls Lab and Conference in Berlin, Germany. Lian is very active in the Falling Walls lab community and was a member of the jury for the Falling Wall Labs 2017.

Lian is a faculty member in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, and teaches clinically-oriented anatomy in Undergraduate Medical Education program, Bachelor of Health Science program and Graduate Science Education.