Natasha J. Caplen, Ph.D.
Natasha J. Caplen, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Head, Gene Silencing Section

Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute

Building 37, Room 6128A
Bethesda, MD 20892
301-451-1844

Dr. Caplen co-discovered RNA interference (RNAi) in mammalian cells and has pioneered approaches for exploiting this gene regulatory mechanism to investigate cancer biology and treatment. Her studies have enhanced our understanding of the molecular basis of colorectal cancer and have identified new targets for the treatment of breast cancer or glioblastoma. Dr. Caplen has also used RNAi to suggest approaches for combining drugs to treat cancer and to identify biomarkers that predict whether a drug will work. Dr. Caplen is involved in a trans-NIH effort that enables intramural-NIH Investigators to access high-throughput functional genomic technologies.

Areas of Expertise
RNA interference, sIRNA screening, functional Genomics, RNAi screening, regulation of gene expression, microRNAs

RNA interference (RNAi) is a sequence-specific post-transcriptional gene silencing mechanism induced by small double-stranded RNA molecules. Following development of a Drosophila based cell culture model of RNAi and studies showing that RNAi can be used to inhibit invertebrate viral replication, in 2001 I showed, along with others, that synthetic RNAs based on the structural characteristics of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) identified in Drosophila and C. elegans, could induce a sequence specific decrease in gene expression. I went on to investigate the use of RNAi to inhibit the expression of transcripts associated with a dominant gene disorder and in 2003 published the first RNAi microarray platform in collaboration with the Dr. Sypros Mousses.

Since joining NCI to establish the Gene Silencing Section in 2004 the research of the group has developed to focus on three broad areas. (1) An improved understanding of the RNAi mechanism, including the role of miRNAs in controlling gene expression, (2) the development of optimized RNAi based resources, and protocols and assays using them and (3) the application of RNAi to cancer and cancer related processes and the use of RNAi to investigate the mechanism of action of anticancer drugs and their interaction with specific molecular target(s).

Scientific Focus Areas:
Cancer Biology, Genetics and Genomics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Systems Biology

View Dr. Caplen's PubMed Summary.

Selected Recent Publications
  1. Garimella SV, Gehlhaus K, Dine JL, Pitt JJ, Grandin M, Chakka S, Nau MM, Caplen NJ, Lipkowitz S.
    Breast Cancer Res. 16: R41, 2014. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Camps J, Pitt JJ, Emons G, Hummon AB, Case CM, Grade M, Jones TL, Nguyen QT, Ghadimi BM, Beissbarth T, Difilippantonio MJ, Caplen NJ, Ried T.
    Cancer Res. 73: 2003-13, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Tandle AT, Kramp T, Kil WJ, Halthore A, Gehlhaus K, Shankavaram U, Tofilon PJ, Caplen NJ, Camphausen K.
    Eur. J. Cancer. 49: 3020-8, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Bennett CN, Tomlinson CC, Michalowski AM, Chu IM, Luger D, Mittereder LR, Aprelikova O, Shou J, Piwinica-Worms H, Caplen NJ, Hollingshead MG, Green JE.
    Breast Cancer Res. 14: R109, 2012. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Barsotti AM, Beckerman R, Laptenko O, Huppi K, Caplen NJ, Prives C.
    J. Biol. Chem. 287: 2509-19, 2012. [ Journal Article ]

Dr. Caplen obtained her Ph.D. from the University of London (Kings College Hospital Medical School) for studies on the genetics of type I diabetes and its complications. Dr. Caplen's Postdoctoral training began at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Imperial College, where she focused on the development of gene therapy approaches for cystic fibrosis (CF) during which she was involved in some of the first pre-clinical and clinical studies of cationic lipid mediated gene therapy for CF. In 1996, Dr. Caplen came to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at NIH as a Visiting Fellow, where she initially conducted studies investigating hybrid viral vector systems for the delivery of genes. It was while at NHGRI that Dr. Caplen developed a research interest in the newly identified gene silencing mechanism, RNA interference (RNAi) leading to her studies that help establish the presence of RNAi in mammalian cells. Dr. Caplen joined CCR, NCI in 2004 as a Senior Scientist, where she heads the Gene Silencing Section initially within the CCR Office of Science and Technology Partnerships and more recently within the Genetics Branch.

Name Position
Konrad Huppi, Ph.D. Staff Scientist
Tamara Jones B.S. Research Biologist
Suntae Kim Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA)
Guillermo Rangel Rivera Postbaccalaureate Fellow (NIH Academy)
Nirmalya Sen Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)

Summary

Dr. Caplen co-discovered RNA interference (RNAi) in mammalian cells and has pioneered approaches for exploiting this gene regulatory mechanism to investigate cancer biology and treatment. Her studies have enhanced our understanding of the molecular basis of colorectal cancer and have identified new targets for the treatment of breast cancer or glioblastoma. Dr. Caplen has also used RNAi to suggest approaches for combining drugs to treat cancer and to identify biomarkers that predict whether a drug will work. Dr. Caplen is involved in a trans-NIH effort that enables intramural-NIH Investigators to access high-throughput functional genomic technologies.

Areas of Expertise
RNA interference, sIRNA screening, functional Genomics, RNAi screening, regulation of gene expression, microRNAs

Research

RNA interference (RNAi) is a sequence-specific post-transcriptional gene silencing mechanism induced by small double-stranded RNA molecules. Following development of a Drosophila based cell culture model of RNAi and studies showing that RNAi can be used to inhibit invertebrate viral replication, in 2001 I showed, along with others, that synthetic RNAs based on the structural characteristics of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) identified in Drosophila and C. elegans, could induce a sequence specific decrease in gene expression. I went on to investigate the use of RNAi to inhibit the expression of transcripts associated with a dominant gene disorder and in 2003 published the first RNAi microarray platform in collaboration with the Dr. Sypros Mousses.

Since joining NCI to establish the Gene Silencing Section in 2004 the research of the group has developed to focus on three broad areas. (1) An improved understanding of the RNAi mechanism, including the role of miRNAs in controlling gene expression, (2) the development of optimized RNAi based resources, and protocols and assays using them and (3) the application of RNAi to cancer and cancer related processes and the use of RNAi to investigate the mechanism of action of anticancer drugs and their interaction with specific molecular target(s).

Scientific Focus Areas:
Cancer Biology, Genetics and Genomics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Systems Biology

Publications

View Dr. Caplen's PubMed Summary.

Selected Recent Publications
  1. Garimella SV, Gehlhaus K, Dine JL, Pitt JJ, Grandin M, Chakka S, Nau MM, Caplen NJ, Lipkowitz S.
    Breast Cancer Res. 16: R41, 2014. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Camps J, Pitt JJ, Emons G, Hummon AB, Case CM, Grade M, Jones TL, Nguyen QT, Ghadimi BM, Beissbarth T, Difilippantonio MJ, Caplen NJ, Ried T.
    Cancer Res. 73: 2003-13, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Tandle AT, Kramp T, Kil WJ, Halthore A, Gehlhaus K, Shankavaram U, Tofilon PJ, Caplen NJ, Camphausen K.
    Eur. J. Cancer. 49: 3020-8, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Bennett CN, Tomlinson CC, Michalowski AM, Chu IM, Luger D, Mittereder LR, Aprelikova O, Shou J, Piwinica-Worms H, Caplen NJ, Hollingshead MG, Green JE.
    Breast Cancer Res. 14: R109, 2012. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Barsotti AM, Beckerman R, Laptenko O, Huppi K, Caplen NJ, Prives C.
    J. Biol. Chem. 287: 2509-19, 2012. [ Journal Article ]

Biography

Dr. Caplen obtained her Ph.D. from the University of London (Kings College Hospital Medical School) for studies on the genetics of type I diabetes and its complications. Dr. Caplen's Postdoctoral training began at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Imperial College, where she focused on the development of gene therapy approaches for cystic fibrosis (CF) during which she was involved in some of the first pre-clinical and clinical studies of cationic lipid mediated gene therapy for CF. In 1996, Dr. Caplen came to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at NIH as a Visiting Fellow, where she initially conducted studies investigating hybrid viral vector systems for the delivery of genes. It was while at NHGRI that Dr. Caplen developed a research interest in the newly identified gene silencing mechanism, RNA interference (RNAi) leading to her studies that help establish the presence of RNAi in mammalian cells. Dr. Caplen joined CCR, NCI in 2004 as a Senior Scientist, where she heads the Gene Silencing Section initially within the CCR Office of Science and Technology Partnerships and more recently within the Genetics Branch.

Team

Name Position
Konrad Huppi, Ph.D. Staff Scientist
Tamara Jones B.S. Research Biologist
Suntae Kim Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow (CRTA)
Guillermo Rangel Rivera Postbaccalaureate Fellow (NIH Academy)
Nirmalya Sen Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow (Visiting)