Dr. Elizabeth Simpson

Professor, The University of British Columbia

Elizabeth M. Simpson, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., is a leading scientist in mammalian genetics and genomics. The overall goal of her research is to improve treatment for human disorders of the central nervous system; with a focus on brain and eye.

Dr. Simpson joined the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1999, and held a Canada Research Chair, Tier II, in Genetics & Behaviour, from 2001-2010. She is a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT), a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics, and an Associate Member in the Departments of Psychiatry and Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. At UBC, she is also an Investigator of the Centre for Brain Health and a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health. She currently serves as Director of the CMMT Mouse Animal Production Service. Dr. Simpson received her B.Sc. from the University of Toronto. She earned her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Victor Ling, Ph.D. at the Ontario Cancer Institute, University of Toronto. Dr. Simpson was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Jim Friesen, University of Toronto, and then with Dr. David Page at the Whitehead Institute (MIT). She joined the faculty of The Jackson Laboratory (1992-1999), and was the Founding Director of their Gene Targeting Service.

Dr. Simpson is best known for her work on mouse models of human disease, and has identified a gene implicated in bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). Currently, she and her laboratory are working on the development of gene-based delivery of proteins; also known as “gene therapy”. Dr. Simpson has spearheaded multiple large international collaborative projects aimed at developing “MiniPromoters”, or human DNA control elements that can drive gene expression in regions of the brain and eye. These MiniPromoters have many applications in academic and industry research including serving as critical tools for gene therapy. The MiniPromoter technology is being developed to enable gene therapy for disorders such as Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and blindness, all of which are resistant to traditional therapeutic approaches. Dr. Simpson is an author on 72 peer-reviewed publications, the most recent of which describes the development of new genomic tools towards virus-based gene therapy for the congenital blindness aniridia (Hickmott et al., 2016). An active proponent of translational approaches, Dr. Simpson has a history of commercial success with the fruits of her research. She fosters collaborations with industry and holds an impressive patent portfolio. Dr. Elizabeth Simpson recently received the Genome British Columbia Award for Scientific Excellence from Life Sciences BC.

Dr. Elizabeth Simpson Grants