Resume

Below you can find the resume for Ben Laufer:

Professional History

  • Dedicated researcher in the field of epigenetics who makes use of state-of-the-art genomic technologies to map DNA methylation, non-coding RNA expression, and gene expression in cell culture, rodent, and primate models of neurodevelopmental disorders as well as human samples.
  • Experienced multi-disciplinary team member with strong communication skills that have led to successful collaborations in both academia and industry. 
  • Passionate educator with over 6 years of experience as a teaching assistant for different levels of undergraduate courses and mentor for 10 research students.
  • Established science communicator with expertise in finding and writing about the latest breakthroughs in the field of epigenetics.

Education

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2016 – Present)
University of California, Davis        
Supervisor: Janine LaSalle

Ph.D. Biology (Cellular & Molecular Stream) (2010-2016)
University of Western Ontario
Thesis: A Long-Term Neuroepigenomic Profile of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
Supervisor: Shiva Singh

B.Sc. Honours Specialization Genetics (2006-2010)
University of Western Ontario     

Research Experience

  • Postdoctoral Scholar
    • Integrated data from whole genome bisulfite sequencing, RNA sequencing, and microRNA assays to uncover how early-life experiences shape the brain’s epigenome.
    • Developed two bioinformatic repositories (https://github.com/ben-laufer), which are written in the R and Unix shell programming languages and used to train lab members, collaborators, and the larger scientific community in the analysis of whole genome bisulfite sequencing data. 
    • Established two transgenic human neuronal cell culture models to examine the impact of transgene overexpression during differentiation. 
  • Graduate Studies
    • Led the translation of research across species by working with a mouse colony and forming collaborations with both a pediatrician and biotechnology company that resulted in novel insight in the field. 
    • Technical experience with the bioinformatic analysis genome-wide sequencing and array technologies (methylation, micoRNA, and gene expression) and gene-specific confirmations of genome-wide scans (qPCR, pyrosequencing, and digital droplet PCR).
    • Strong communication skills that are evidenced by multiple oral presentations and poster presentations at scientific conferences, scientific publication record, and knowledge translation efforts with high viewership.  

Teaching Experience

  • Teaching Assistant for 6 years
    • Taught laboratory skills in a hands-on environment, helped create modern educational lab protocols, as well as designed and gave lectures about scientific theory and practice for a 4th year Undergraduate Course: Investigative Techniques in Genetics.
    • Led workshops, created and presented lectures, and graded for a 3rd year course in genetics: Advanced Genetics. 
    • Led tutorials and graded for a 2nd year introduction to genetics course for biology students.

Editorial Experience

  • Epigenetics Editor & Writer at EpiGenie for 7.5 years
    • Wrote over 250 headlines to communicate the latest scientific news about epigenetics, synthetic biology, and stem cells for an audience of 13.5-20K monthly visitors and ~4,500 newsletter subscribers.
    • Managed and trained a team of 4 technical science writers.
    • Created and maintained a “Useful Epigenetics Tools and Databases” page, wrote webpage content for EpiGenie’s sponsors, organized conference coverage partnerships, and pitched webinars.
    • Technical experience with the administration of a WordPress content management system (CMS), search engine optimization (SEO), and managing a twitter account.

Employment History

Epigenetics Editor & Writer (2013– Present)
EpiGenie (Active Motif)  

Teaching Assistant (2010– 2016)
University of Western Ontario        

Independent Contractor (2015)
EpiBeat (Zymo Research)                          

Awards, Honors, Scholarships, and Fellowships

2019 – 2021             CIHR Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship Award
2016 – 2019             CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship Award
2012 – 2015             NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship Doctoral (PGS-D) 
2013                            Poster Competition Winner at Fetal Alcohol Canadian Expertise 
2012                            Poster Presentation Award Finalist at WCPG
2012                            NIAAA Travel Award for World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics
2011                            Ontario Graduate Scholarship 
2011                            First Place Oral Presentation at BGRF
2010                           Graduated with Distinction and Western Scholar’s
2006 – 2010             Dean’s Honour List
2006                           Jeanette Holden Post-Secondary Entrance Scholarship

Funding

2018                          MIND Institute IDDRC Pilot Grant
                                    Translational Methylomic Analysis of Cell-Free Fetal DNA
                                    *Cowritten with Cheryl K. Walker

2018                          UC Davis Campus Research Core Facilities Pilot
                                    Engineering A Neurodevelopmental Cell Model of DS

2017                          UC Davis Genome Center Seed Grant
                                    Establishing Methods for WGBS of Cell Free Fetal DNA

Service

2021                           CIHR “Canada Graduate Studies-Doctoral” Awards Committee
2020 – 2021            Chair of the CEEHRC Trainee Committee
2019                           NIH Pennington COBRE Pilot and Feasibility Grant Reviewer
2010 – 2015            Society of Graduate Students Bursary Committee Member 
2014                           Judge at the Thames Valley Science & Engineering Fair
2013 – 2014            Advisory Committee Member for Undergraduate Thesis Student
2012                           Biology Graduate Research Forum Organizer   

Preprints                                           

  1. Laufer*, BI., Gomez*, JA., Jianu, JM., LaSalle, JM. (2020) Stable DNMT3L Overexpression in SH-SY5Y Neurons Recreates a Facet of the Genome-Wide Down Syndrome DNA Methylation Signature. bioRxiv.

Publications

  1. Mordaunt, CE., Jianu, JM., Laufer, BI., Zhu,Y., Dunaway, KW., Bakulski, KM., Feinberg, JI., Volk, HE., Lyall, K., Croen, LA., Newschaffer, CJ., Ozonoff, S., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Fallin, DM., Schmidt, RJ., LaSalle, JM. (2020) Cord blood DNA methylome in newborns later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder reflects early dysregulation of neurodevelopmental and X-linked genes. Genome Medicine.
  2. Laufer, BI., Hwang, H., Jianu, JM., Mordaunt, CE., Korf, IF., Hertz-Picciotto, I., LaSalle, JM. (2020) Low-Pass Whole Genome Bisulfite Sequencing of Neonatal Dried Blood Spots Identifies a Role for RUNX1 in Down Syndrome DNA Methylation Profiles. Human Molecular Genetics.
  3. Lopez, SJ., Laufer, BI., Beitnere, U., Berg, E., Silverman, JL., Segal, DJ., LaSalle, JM. (2019) Imprinting effects of UBE3A loss on synaptic gene networks and Wnt signaling pathways. Human Molecular Genetics.
  4. Vogel Ciernia*, A., Laufer*, BI., Hwang, H., Dunaway, KW., Mordaunt, CE., Coulson, RL., Yasui, DH., LaSalle, JM. (2019) Epigenomic convergence of genetic and immune risk factors in autism brain. Cerebral Cortex.
  5. Laufer, BI., Hwang, H., Vogel Ciernia, A., Mordaunt, CE., LaSalle JM. (2019) Whole genome bisulfite sequencing of Down syndrome brain reveals regional DNA hypermethylation and novel disorder insights. Epigenetics.
  6. Coulson, RL., Yasui DH., Dunaway KW., Laufer BI., Vogel Ciernia A., Zhu, Y., Mordaunt CE., Totah TS., LaSalle, JM. (2018) Snord116-dependent diurnal rhythm of DNA methylation in mouse cortex. Nature Communications.
  7. Vogel Ciernia*, A., Laufer*, BI., Dunaway, KW., Mordaunt, CE., Coulson, RL., Totah, TS., Stolzenberg, DS., Frahm, J., Singh-Taylor, A., Baram, TZ., LaSalle, JM., Yasui, DH. (2018) Experience-dependent neuroplasticity of the developing hypothalamus: integrative epigenomic approaches. Epigenetics.
  8. Chater-Diehl, EJ., Laufer, BI., Singh, SM. (2017) Changes to histone modifications following prenatal alcohol exposure: An emerging picture. Alcohol.
  9. Laufer, BI., Chater-Diehl, EJ., Kapalanga, J., Singh, SM. (2016) Long-term alterations to DNA methylation as a biomarker of prenatal alcohol exposure: From mouse models to human children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Alcohol.
  10. Chater-Diehl, EJ., Laufer, BI., Castellani, CA., Alberry, BL., Singh, SM. (2016) Alteration of Gene Expression, DNA Methylation, and Histone Methylation in Free Radical Scavenging Networks in Adult Mouse Hippocampus following Fetal Alcohol Exposure. PLOS ONE.
  11. Laufer, BI., Singh, SM. (2015) Strategies for precision modulation of gene expression by epigenome editing: An overview. Epigenetics & Chromatin.
  12. Laufer, BI., Kapalanga, J., Castellani, CA., Diehl, EJ., Yan, L., Singh, SM. (2015) Associative DNA methylation changes in children with prenatal alcohol exposure. Epigenomics.
  13. Castellani, CA., Laufer, BI., Melka, MG., Diehl, EJ., O’Reilly, R., Singh, SM. (2015) DNA methylation differences in monozygotic twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia identifies psychosis related genes and networks. BMC Medical Genomics.
  14. Castellani*, CA., Melka*, MG., Diehl, EJ., Laufer, BI., O’Reilly, R., Singh, SM. (2015) DNA methylation in psychosis: insights into etiology and treatment. Epigenomics.
  15. Singh, SM., Laufer, BI., Kapalanga, J. (2014) Fetal alcohol and the right to be born healthy…. Frontiers in Genetics
  16. Kleiber, ML., Laufer, BI., Stringer, R., Singh, SM. (2014) Third trimester-equivalent ethanol exposure is characterized by an acute cellular stress response and an ontogenetic disruption of genes critical for synaptic establishment and function in mice. Developmental Neuroscience.
  17. Kleiber, ML., Diehl, EJ., Laufer, BI., Mantha, K., Chokroborty-Hoque, A., Alberry, B., Singh, SM. (2014) Long-term genomic and epigenomic dysregulation as a consequence of prenatal alcohol exposure: a model for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Frontiers in Genetics
  18. Mantha, K., Laufer, BI., Singh, SM. (2014) Molecular changes during neurodevelopment following second-trimester binge ethanol exposure in a mouse model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: from immediate effects to long-term adaptation. Developmental Neuroscience
  19. Melka, MG., Laufer, BI., Castellani, CA. Rajakumar, RN., O’Reilly, R., Singh, SM. (2014) The effects of olanzapine on genome-wide DNA methylation in the hippocampus and cerebellum. Clinical Epigenetics.
  20. Laufer, BI., Diehl, EJ., Singh, SM. (2013) Neurodevelopmental epigenetic etiologies: insights from studies on mouse models of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Epigenomics.
  21. Stringer, R., Laufer, BI., Kleiber, M., Singh, SM. (2013) Reduced expression of brain cannabinoid receptor 1 (Cnr1) is coupled with an increased complementary micro-RNA (miR-26b) in a mouse model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Clinical Epigenetics
  22. Laufer, BI., Mantha, K., Kleiber, ML., Diehl, EJ., Addison, SMF., Singh, SM. (2013) Long lasting alterations to DNA methylation and ncRNAs may underlie the effects of fetal alcohol exposure. Disease Models & Mechanisms
  23. Anderson-Schmidt, H., Beltcheva, O., Brandon, MD., Byrne, EM., Diehl, EJ., Duncan, L., Gonzalez, SD., Hannon, E., Kantojarvi, K., Karagiannidis, I., Kos, MZ., Kotyuk, E., Laufer, BI., Mantha, K., McGregor, NW., Meier, S., Nieratschker, V., Spiers, H., Squassina, A., Thakur, GA., Tiwari, Y., Viswanath, B., Way, MJ., Wong, CCP., O’Shea, A., DeLisi, LE. (2013) Selected Rapporteur Summaries From the XX World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics, Hamburg, Germany, October 14–18, 2012. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics.
  24. Melka, MG., A Castellani, CA. Laufer, BI., Rajakumar, RN., O’Reilly, R., Singh, SM. (2013) Olanzapine induced DNA methylation changes support the dopamine hypothesis of psychosis. Journal of Molecular Psychiatry.
  25. Kleiber, ML., Laufer, BI., Wright, E., Diehl, EJ., Singh, SM. (2012) Long-term alterations to the brain transcriptome in a maternal voluntary consumption model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Brain Research.
  26. Laufer, BI., Singh, SM. (2012) A Macro Role for Imprinted Clusters of MicroRNAs in the Brain. MicroRNA.

Select Oral Presentations

  1. Laufer, BI., Walker, CK., VandeVoort, CA., LaSalle, JM. A Prenatal Epigenomic Investigation of the Impact of Maternal Obesity on Infant Neurodevelopment. Part of the “Preventing Tomorrow’s Disparities Today: Addressing Early Life Risks to Promote Health Across the Lifespan” Invited Symposium. Society of Behavioral Medicine Meeting. 3 April, 2020, San Francisco, California, USA. [Cancelled due to COVID-19].
  2. Laufer, BI., Walker, CK., VandeVoort, CA., LaSalle, JM. Cell-free Fetal DNA Methylation Profiles of Maternal Obesity Effects on Infant Neurodevelopment. Part of the “Big Insights from Low Coverage Whole Genome Bisulfite Sequencing: From Samples to Analysis” special seminar hosted by Swift Biosciences at the University of British Columbia. 4 December, 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 
  3. Laufer, BI., Walker, CK., VandeVoort, CA., LaSalle, JM. Cell-free Fetal DNA Methylation Profiles of the Impact of Maternal Obesity on Infant Neurodevelopment. UC Davis Human Genomics Symposium. 22 November, 2019, Sacramento, California, USA.  
  4. Laufer, BI., Walker, CK., VandeVoort, CA., LaSalle, JM. Cell-free Fetal DNA Methylation Profiles of Maternal Obesity Effects on Infant Neurodevelopment. Joint International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) and Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC) Meeting. 19 November, 2019, Banff, Alberta, Canada.
  5. Laufer, B.I. Vogel Ciernia, A., Dunaway, K.W., Mordaunt, C.E., Coulson,R.L., Totah, T.S., Stolzenberg, D.S., Frahm, J., Singh-Taylor, A., Baram, T.Z., LaSalle, J.M., & Yasui, D.H. Molecular Memories of Maternal Care: Epigenetic Modifications in the Brain Shape Resilience to Stress. UC Davis Human Genomics Symposium. 17 November, 2017, Sacramento, California, USA.  
  6. Laufer, B.I. Vogel Ciernia, A., Dunaway, K.W., Mordaunt, C.E., Coulson,R.L., Totah, T.S., Stolzenberg, D.S., Frahm, J., Singh-Taylor, A., Baram, T.Z., LaSalle, J.M., & Yasui, D.H. Molecular Memories of Maternal Care: Epigenetic Modifications in the Brain Shape Resilience to Stress. Postdoctoral Research Symposium. 12 April, 2017, University of California, Davis, USA.  
  7. Laufer, B.I., Mantha, K., Kleiber, ML., Diehl, EJ., Addisson, SMF., and Singh, SM. Alterations in genomically imprinted miRNA and snoRNA clusters in a mouse model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). 9 November, 2012, San Francisco, California, USA. 
  8. Laufer, B.I., Mantha, K., Kleiber, ML., Diehl, EJ., Addisson, SMF., and Singh, SM.Alterations in genomically imprinted miRNA and snoRNA clusters in a mouse model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Mouse Molecular Genetics Conference. 4 October, 2012, Pacific Grove, California, USA. 
  9. Laufer, B.I. Epigenetics: The Bridge Between Nature and Nurture. Western Research Forum. 27 March, 2012, London, Canada. 
  10. Laufer, B.I., Mantha, K., Kleiber, ML., Diehl, EJ., Addisson, SMF., and Singh, SM.Disruption of Imprinted Regions in a Mouse Model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Biology Graduate Research Forum. 22 October, 2011, London, Ontario, Canada.

Select Poster Presentations

  1. Laufer, BI., Gomez, JA., Yasui, DH., Mordaunt, CE., Vogel Ciernia, A., Lu, J., Sheen V.L., LaSalle, JM. Whole-genome bisulfite sequencing of Down syndrome cortex reveals regional DNA hypermethylation of active chromatin states and novel disorder insights. UC Davis Human Genomics Symposium. 16 November, 2018, Sacramento, California, USA.  
  2. Laufer, BI., Gomez, JA., Yasui, DH., Mordaunt, CE., Vogel Ciernia, A., Lu, J., Sheen V.L., LaSalle, JM. Whole-genome bisulfite sequencing of Down syndrome cortex reveals regional DNA hypermethylation of active chromatin states and novel disorder insights. American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). 18 October, 2018, San Diego, California, USA.
  3. Laufer, B.I., Kapalanga J, Diehl, EJ., Kleiber, ML., Chokroborty-Hoque, A., Alberry, BLJ., Mantha, K., and Singh, SM. A Neuroepigenomic Model of the Fetal Alcohol Exposure Spectrum. American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). 18 October, 2014, San Diego, California, USA. 
  4. Laufer, B.I., Diehl, E.J., Kapalanga, J., and Singh, S.M. A Neuroepigenomic Mouse Model of Fetal Alcohol Exposure. Canadian Conference on Epigenetics: Epigenetics, Eh! 24 June, 2017, London, Ontario, Canada.
  5. Laufer, BI., Kapalanga, J., Diehl, EJ., Mantha, K., Kleiber, ML., Chokroborty-Hoque, A., Alberry, BLJ., Koren G., Singh, SM. Translating epigenetic alterations in a mouse model to humans. The Fetal Alcohol Canadian Expertise (FACE) Research Association. 7 September 2013, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
  6. Laufer, B.I., Mantha, K., Kleiber, ML., Diehl, EJ., Addisson, SMF., Singh, SM.Alterations in genomically imprinted miRNA and snoRNA clusters in a mouse model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). World Conference of Psychiatric Genetics (WCPG). 15 October, 2012, Hamburg, Germany. 
  7. Laufer, B.I., Diehl, E., Kleiber, M., Janus, K., Wright, E., and Singh, S. Disruption of Imprinted Regions in a Mouse Model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). 12th International Congress on Human Genetics and the 61s tAnnual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. 11 October, 2011, Montreal, Canada. ​​

Peer Review Experience

  • Translational Psychiatry 
  • Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity 
  • Epigenetics
  • Neurotoxicology and Teratology 
  • Journal of Psychiatric Research 
  • Molecular Autism
  • Genomics

Popular Media and Knowledge Translation

  1. “Cord blood DNA can hold clues for early autism diagnosis and intervention. October 22, 2020. Medical Xpresshttps://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-cord-blood-dna-clues-early.html
  2. “Different forms of autism may share pattern of chemical tags on DNA”. July 22, 2019. Spectrumhttps://www.spectrumnews.org/news/different-forms-of-autism-may-share-pattern-of-chemical-tags-on-dna/
  3. “FASD, methylation and miRNA: changing the “volume” on gene expression.” October 6, 2016. Western Science. https://www.uwo.ca/sci/about_science/media/stories/articles/2016/fasd_methylation_and_mirna_changing_the_volume_on_gene_expression.html
  4. “FASD and epigenetics.” November 30, 2015. Focus on Adoption Magazinehttps://www.bcadoption.com/resources/articles/fasd-and-epigenetics
  5. “Study confirms dangers of fetal alcohol exposure.” November 20, 2014. Western News.https://news.westernu.ca/2014/11/study-confirms-dangers-of-fetal-alcohol-exposure/
  6. “In fetal alcohol study, IPA finds the signal in the noise.” May 22, 2014.  Qiagen.https://digitalinsights.qiagen.com/resources/science/case-studies/fetal-alcohol-study-ipa-finds-signal-noise/
  7. “Epigenetic Effects of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure.” March 18, 2014. Germline Exposures. http://www.germlineexposures.org/ben-laufer-qa.html
  8. “Meet the next generation of social-media-savvy graduate students.” February 6, 2014. University Affairs.https://www.universityaffairs.ca/career-advice/career-advice-article/meet-the-next-generation-of-social-media-savvy-graduate-students/
  9. “Epigenetic patterns observed in schizophrenia therapy may open up venues for personalized medicine.” January 7, 2014. Technology.org. https://www.technology.org/2014/01/07/epigenetic-patterns-observed-schizophrenia-therapy-may-open-venues-personalized-medicine/
  10. “A single drink can have a lifetime of consequences.” August 30, 2013. BMC On Biologyhttp://blogs.biomedcentral.com/on-biology/2013/08/30/a-single-drink-can-have-a-lifetime-of-consequences/
  11. “Study explores fetal alcohol impact at molecular level.” Medical Xpress. July 19, 2013. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-07-explores-fetal-alcohol-impact-molecular.html

Webinars and Video Interviews

  1. “Bioinformatic approaches to enable low coverage whole genome bisulfite sequencing.” 19 March, 2020. Epigenetics Methods Series for the Knight Cardiovascular Institute Epigenetics Consortium at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5UHLobpwUA
  2. “Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: insights into neurodevelopmental exposures and disorders.” June 2, 2016. EpigenomicsNet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt-mNKiM5Os
  3. “Life long changes in DNA methylation & ncRNAs in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).” August 12, 2013. Qiagen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzdc0GIdCnA