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Heather Ray

CSD Graduate Student


CSD Graduate Student - Heather ray

E-Mail: Heather Ray


First Year Lab Rotations (BSP Program):

Rotation 1: Yosef Refaeli's Lab (2010): The Refaeli lab uses several mouse models of B-cell lymphoma to identify potential therapeutic targets. Using a lymphoma cell line derived from one of these mouse models, I investigated the involvement of Wnt signaling in the maintenance of B-cell lymphoma by siRNA-mediated knock down of several components of the Wnt pathway.

Rotation 2: Dennis Roop's Lab (2011): The Roop lab studies several skin blistering diseases, including Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis (EHK), which is a dominant monogenetic disorder that affects skin keratins. To better study the human disorder, I generated human skin on the backs of SCID mice by grafting skin cells cultured from an EHK patient biopsy. This model can now be used to assess potential corrective therapies for EHK.

Rotation 3:  Lee Niswander's Lab (2011): The process of neural tube closure during embryonic development is highly complex and involves several different tissues. In order to understand the role of non-neural ectoderm in this process, I used a novel method to specifically isolate cells from this tissue during the time of neural tube closure in mice. This method can be used to identify genes which are specifically up or down regulated in these cells during neural tube closure.


Thesis Advisor:   Lee Niswander


Invited Presentations / Conferences

1. Intranasal vaccination with a defined attenuated Francisella novicida strain induces MHC Class II-dependant protection against tularemia. 5th International Conference on Tularemia, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, October 2006

2. A defined intranasal vaccine against pulmonary tularemia requires the effective induction of MHC Class II-dependant humoral immunity. 13th International Congress of Mucosal Immunology, Tokyo, Japan, July 2007

3. Analysis of phagocytic activity of rat macrophages for Francisella tularensis. 6th International Conference on Tularemia, Berlin, Germany, September 2009.


Honors and Awards:

Travel Award from the International Tularemia Conference, Berlin, Germany, 2009
Oregon Laurels Scholarship awarded by the state of Oregon 1995-1998



Ray, H.J., Niswander, L. (2012) Mechanisms of tissue fusion during development. Development. 139(10):1701-11.

Ray, H.J., Chu, P, Wu, T.H., Lyons, C.R., Klose, K.E., Guentzel, M.N., Arulanandam, B.P. (2010) The Fischer 344 rat reflects human susceptibility to Francisella pulmonary challenge and provides a new platform for virulence and protection studies. Plos One 5 (4): e9952

Ray, H.J., Cong, Y., Murthy, A.K., Selby, D.M., Klose, K.E., Barker, J.R., Guentzel, M.N., Arulanandam, B.P. (2009) Oral live vaccine strain induced protective immunity against pulmonary Francisella tularensis challenge is mediated by CD4+ T cells and antibodies including IgA. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 16: 444-452.

Powell, H.J.*, Cong, Y., Yu, J., Guentzel, M.N., Berton, M., Klose, K.E., Murthy, A.K., Arulanandam, B.P. (2008) CD4+ T cells are required during priming but not the effector phase of antibody-mediated IFN--dependent protective immunity against pulmonary Francisella infection. Immunol. Cell. Biology. 86: 515-522. *Author’s maiden name


Prior Education:

Master of Science, Biology, University of Texas San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, 2009.

Bachelor of Science, Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, 2006.


Experience prior to joining the CSD graduate program:

Research Science Associate I, University of Texas at San Antonio, June 2006 to August 2010.


Why did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development?

I have always been fascinated by how a single fertilized egg can develop in to a complex organism with very specialized, compartmentalized structures. Additionally, if we can understand the mechanisms behind how cells differentiate in to these various tissues, we can harness this knowledge to treat many diseases. I figure that working on this great developmental “puzzle” is a great way for me to spend my time, and hopefully something I learn can be beneficial to understanding and even treating disease.

Why did you choose CU's Anschutz Medical Campus?

From the moment that I stepped on to campus during recruitment weekend, I felt at home here. Everyone that I met was extremely friendly and helpful. The open plan of the lab spaces really encourages communication and collaboration between labs and I felt like this is the type of environment which would be most beneficial to me as a student. Of course, the location of the campus in a great place like Denver is an added bonus and I love being able to look out on the mountains all the time. Overall, there is just a great vibe here and people seem really happy, including me!

What has been the biggest surprise to you since arriving at AMC?

Probably the biggest surprise was how well I dealt with the winter. I’m not used to living in the snow and I hate cold weather. I thought that the whole winter season would be tortuous for me. But it wasn’t that bad and I actually find myself enjoying the variation of the seasons a bit.


Where did you grow up?

I was a Navy brat, so I moved all over the place, including Japan and Iceland. But my family finally settled in Corvallis, Oregon and that is where I consider my home.

When did you start the graduate program at Anschutz Medical Campus?

I started in the Biomedical Sciences Program (BSP) in Fall, 2010, and joined the CSD program this past summer, 2011.

What do you do for fun?

I love to travel! My husband and I try to explore somewhere new as often as possible. In between, I just want to be outdoors whether it’s hiking in the woods, playing tennis, or just relaxing on my porch with something cooking on the barbeque.

What do you like about living in Colorado?

Well, I just got back from a backpacking trip in the Lost Creek Wilderness. I love being able to explore the beauty of the Rocky Mountains with my husband and my dog. We can drive just an hour away from where we live and find a place where we won’t see another person for days. So it’s a nice combination here of living in a city but being able to just as easily get away from the city and in to nature that is so great.

What do you like about the Anschutz Medical Campus?

I like it for all of the reasons that initially drew me to go to school here. There is a great mix of good science and good people. People work really hard, but also enjoy life and there are so many people who love the outdoors like I do.

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