Elaine A. Ostrander, PhD

Elaine Ostrander's Credentials

Ph.D., Microbiology and Immunology, Oregon Health and Sciences University

Bachelor of Science, University of Washington

About Elaine Ostrander

Dr. Elaine Ostrander is Chief and Distinguished Senior Investigator of the Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute of NIH. She also heads the Section of Comparative Genetics.

She received her Ph.D. from the Oregon Health and Science University and did her initial postdoctoral training at Harvard and UC Berkeley. She then went to the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs where, with collaborators, she began the canine genome project, assembling the foundational resources needed to navigate the canine genome.

Dr. Ostrander joined the faculty of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in 1993, rising to the rank of Member in the Human Biology and Clinical Research Divisions, and head of the Genetics Program. She moved to NIH in 2004 to assume a position of Chief and Senior Investigator at NHGRI.

Dr. Ostrander’s lab at has traditionally worked in the fields of both human and canine genetics. Her lab uses state-of-the-art genomic approaches to identify prostate cancer susceptibility genes in both high-risk families and population-base, case control studies. She has identified alleles that increase risk for metastatic disease and continues to work within two large consortia to identify susceptibility loci.

Hers was one of the first labs to describe a role for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in women drawn from the general population, revealing epidemiologic features of woman at risk for breast or ovarian cancer.

Dr. Ostrander’s lab is best known, though, for their studies of the domestic dog as a well-phenotyped species with an extensively documented population structure that offers unique opportunities for solving fundamental biological problems. Human selection has differentiated the dog into a staggering variety of breeds, each featuring a narrow, precisely defined set of phenotypes. Recognizing that this combination of diversity and uniformity provides an exceptional opportunity for genetic dissection of biological processes, her lab has applied these advantages to tackling problems in cell and organismal biology, and human disease, which have proven intractable in other model systems.