Graduate Brings Ear Cancer in Channel Island Foxes to Light

Spetember 11, 2019

Sarah Hendricks and Paul Hohenlohe

Sarah Hendricks spends her days analyzing white rhino genomes at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research as part of a program aimed at keeping the animals from extinction. She uses ground-breaking genetic techniques to assess, observe, and manage endangered species and prevent species extinction.

It's the perfect job for Hendricks, who graduated from the University of Idaho in spring 2019 with a PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. As a U of I student, Hendricks went to Paul Hohenlohe, associate professor of evolutionary biology in the Department of Biological Sciences, and asked him if she could research the genetics of the foxes. Hohenlohe, who does similar work with Tasmanian devils, readily agreed. "While studying facial cancer in Tasmanian devils, my team found individual devils with tumor regression," Hohenlohe said. "The DNA sequencing of these individuals identified a gene that could play a role in that. Sarah and I believed that there might be something comparable happening with the foxes."

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