Janet is originally from the UK, with an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Genetics from University College London. Her graduate work was performed in Sue Povey’s lab, looking at the genetic basis for a human genetic disease called tuberous sclerosis. This was followed by twelve years working with Barbara Trask in Fred Hutchinson’s Human Biology division, first as a post-doc and then as staff scientist. There, her research mostly focused on the evolution and transcriptional regulation of some very large mammalian gene families, the olfactory and vomeronasal (“pheromone”) receptors. Janet also applied her bioinformatics skills to a number of other projects in the Trask lab, including copy-number gain and loss in prostate cancer and measurement of methylation levels across the human genome. Before joining the Malik lab, Janet spent time in the lab of Stephen Tapscott looking at a human disease called FSHD (facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy) in which retroelements play an intriguing but mysterious role.
Janet joined the Malik lab in September 2011 and is involved in various projects, including the evolution of a family of innate immunity genes, and on retroelements, a fascinating set of DNA sequences that were derived long ago from infectious viruses but have since taken up residence within the genomes of more complex organisms like ourselves. These retroelements are often considered to be “junk” DNA, but can also cause various biological problems, and have even occasionally been subverted by the host organism to perform useful functions.
Outside of the lab, Janet loves exploring the great Pacific Northwest, hiking and camping as much as possible during the summer, and going skiing in the winter. She is also passionate about playing the trumpet as a member of two Seattle-based community orchestras. She originally intended to stay in Seattle for just a two or three year spell as a post-doc before returning to the UK, but somehow can’t escape the pull of the mountains, her fantastic community of friends, and the great working environment of the Hutchinson Center.