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Nov - Jesse Gillis

Speaker: Jesse Gillis

Talk Title: The Transcriptional Legacy of Developmental Stochasticity

Event Details


Wednesday, Nov 17th, 2021 11:00am ~ 12:00pm (Pacific Time)


Virtually on Zoom. Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 687 9581 5609

Password: 260336

Affiliation: Associate Professor of Computational Genomics, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


Dr. Gillis is an Associate Professor of Computational Genomics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Since starting his own lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2012, his research has aimed to understand the flow of information from the genome to whole organism biology through modeling and analysis of functional genomics data. This research is broadly integrative across modalities, systems, and even species, but also integrative across levels of organization, using molecular processes within cells to understand how and why cells diversify and how that diversity, in turn, affects organism phenotype.

Dr. Gillis’ graduate training was in Computational Neuroscience. He obtained a PhD with Frances Skinner from the University of Toronto. His post-doc, with Paul Pavlidis, at the University of Toronto focused on largescale integration of expression data to improve our understanding of gene function.


X-chromosome inactivation is an epigenetic process that regulates gene dosage in females. Occurring as a random coin-flip early in development, the status of inactivation is then stably inherited down cell lineages via DNA methylation. The degree of “skewing” toward one chromosome over the other has been researched intensively, and importantly it has been linked to disease, where female carriers of X-linked disorders can have differential disease penetrance as a function of skewing.

But what about the autosomes? Is the allelic expression of autosomal genes epigenetically regulated? And if so, could it have an impact on disease risk?

In this work, we uncover one major axis of random variation with a large and permanent regulatory influence on the allelic expression on autosomes: developmental stochasticity. By assaying the transcriptome of wild monozygotic quadruplets of the nine-banded armadillo, we find that persistent changes occur early in development, and these give rise to clear transcriptional signatures which uniquely characterize individuals relative to siblings.

Introductory Speaker: Dalia Alghamdi, Hsiao lab, SFU

Talk Title: Semantic web application for organizing and federated querying of biobank data