Staff Events
Elizabeth Patton

Chemical-genetics in zebrafish: Discovering new targets in the melanocyte lineage and melanoma

Melanoma accounts for 80% of the deaths from skin cancer, and incidence continues to rise rapidly. Aggressive and resistant to chemotherapies, individuals with metastatic melanoma often have a life expectancy of less than one year. Our research is focused on understanding how melanocytes
– the pigment cells that become melanoma – develop, divide, migrate and maintain homeostatis within their microenvironment, as well as the genetic
and cellular events that cause melancoytes to form moles and their progression to invasive cancer. To do this, we use the zebrafish system, which allows both the visualization of developing and migrating melanocytes, as well as their aberrant progression to melanoma.

Dr Patton received a BSc (Honours) degree from King’s College at Dalhousie University, and worked with Professor Gerry Johnston to study the initiation of the budding yeast cell cycle. She then received a PhD from the University of Toronto, working with Mike Tyers to discover how E3 ubiquitin ligases control cell division. Following this, Liz received a Human Frontier Science Programme Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Len Zon at Harvard Medical School, where she developed a zebrafish model for melanoma. She continued her training with a MRC Career Development Award at The University of Oxford and the MRC Human Genetics Unit, and is currently a Group Leader at the MRC Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine in Edinburgh,
in addition to manager of the MRC IGMM zebrafish service facility. Dr. Patton has recently been elected to the Young Academy of Scotland at the
Royal Society of Edinburgh, and to the Council of the European Society of Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research. She serves on the Editorial Board
for Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research (Wiley) and is a Monitoring Editor for Disease Models and Mechanisms (The Company of Biologists).