Dr. Roxanne Gillett, PhD


Many of my past research experiences have concentrated on using molecular techniques to assess factors related to health and reproduction in endangered species. My formal training began at Dalhousie University where I obtained a BSc in Marine Biology (Honours, Co-op). After completing my honours project, I pursued a PhD with Dr. Bradley White at the Natural DNA Profiling ad Forensic Center at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. During this time used molecular techniques to characterize major histocompatibility genes and performed pedigree analysis to assess factors affecting health and reproduction in the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale. After the completion of my PhD, I further developed my molecular skills during a postdoctoral fellowship at Trent University (under the supervision of Dr. Chris Kyle), and subsequent employment at Fisheries and Oceans Canada assessing major histocompatibility genes in wolverines and Atlantic salmon respectively.

In the fall of 2012, I obtained a position in the Bedard Lab as part of the Genome Canada funded research program “Identifying Genes and Novel Therapeutics to Enhance Treatment” (IGNITE). Here my focus has been discovering the underlying genetic mutations that cause rare heritable disorders in Atlantic Canadian families, including rare heritable forms of cancer. This experience has provided me with exposure to clinical research, has given me the opportunity to use my molecular expertise in this field, has strengthened my appreciation for the need to understand the underlying genetic mechanisms involved in the development and progression of cancer, and has resulted in me developing a strong interest in continuing to help unlock the genetic mystery of heritable forms of cancers.


Gillett RM, Murray BW, and BN White. Characterization of class I- and II-like major histocompatibility complex loci pedigrees of North Atlantic right whales. Journal of Heredity. In Press.

Frasier T., Gillett RM, Hamilton P, Brown M, Kraus S, and BN White. 2013. Postcopulatory selection for dissimilar gametes maintains heterozygosity in the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Ecology and Evolution 3:3483-3494

LeBlanc MA, Penney LS, Gaston D, Shi Y, Aberg E, Nightingale M, Jiang H, Gillett RM, Fahiminiya S, MacGillivary C, Wood EP, Acott PD, Khan MN, Samuels ME, Majewski J, Orr A, McMaster CR, and K Bedard. 2013. A novel rearrangement of occludin causes brain calcification and renal dysfunction. Human Genetics 132:1223-1234.

Oomen R, Gillett RM, and CJ Kyle. 2013. Comparison of 454 pyrosequencing methods for characterizing MHC in non-model species and the advantages of ultra deep coverage. Molecular Ecology Resources 13:103-116.

Zigouris J, Dawson FN, Bowman J, Gillett RM, Schaefer JA, and CJ Kyle. 2012. Genetic isolation of wolverine (Gulo gulo) populations at the eastern periphery of their North American distribution. Conservation Genetics 13:1543-1559.

Doucette GJ, Mikulski CM, King KL, Roth PB, Wang Z, Leandro LF, DeGrasse SL, White KD, DeBiase D, Gillett RM, and RM Rolland. 2012. Endangered North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) experienced repeated, concurrent exposure to multiple environmental neurotoxins produced by marine algae. Environmental Research 112:67-76.

Gillett RM, Frasier TR, Rolland RM, and BN White. 2010. Molecular identification of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) from free-floating feces. Marine Mammal Science 26:917-936.

Gillett RM, White BN, and RM Rolland. 2008. Quantification and genetic profiling of DNA isolated from free-floating feces of the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Marine Mammal Science 24:341-355.

Frasier TR, McLeod BA, Gillett RM, Brown MW, and BN White. 2007. Right Whale Past and Present as Revealed By Their Genes. In: Kraus, SD and RR Rolland. The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads. Harvard University Press.

Rolland RM, Hamilton PK, Kraus SD, Davenport B, Gillett RM, and SK Wasser. 2006. Faecal sampling using detection dogs to study reproduction and health in North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis). Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 8:121-125.

Hardie D, Gillett RM, and JA Hutchings. 2006. The effects of isolation and colonization history on the genetic structure of marine-relict populations of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the Canadian Arctic. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63:1830-1839.