Betsy Ferguson

The Ferguson Laboratory is investigating the genetic and epigenetic basis of natural diseases and disorders in macaques,including Batten's disease, macular degeneration and addiction. We currently use a variety of genomic approaches, including whole genome sequencing, exon-sequencing and genotype-by-sequencing to identify risk loci associated with inherited neurodegenerative and ocular diseases characterized in extended pedigreed macaque populations. Using genome-wide bisulfite-sequencing, we have also identified epialleles associated with risk for addictive disorders, and are now investigating the origin of these examples of epigenetic risk. The findings of these studies inform the design of therapeutic treatment strategies, including gene and stem cell therapies.

The Ferguson lab is also developing novel genetic tools for use in the study of nonhuman primates. Both whole genome and transcriptome sequencing methods facilitate the discovery of SNP variants in the rhesus, cynomolgus and Japanese macaque genomes.  The genetic variants are used in the design of SNP arrays for linkage studies or for discerning animal parentage and geographic ancestry.  The sequence variants also enable comparative population studies that support animal model development.  These studies have led to the establishment of SNP arrays that are now used to evaluate the ancestries of macaques across all of the National Primate Research Centers, improving the breeding management and reproducibility of research for ancestry-sensitive studies.



Betsy Ferguson is an Associate Professor in the Division of Neuroscience and is leader of the Primate Genetics Section. She received a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Massachusetts in 1981 and a Genetics from the University of Washington in 1990. As a postdoctoral fellow, she was recipient of a Life Sciences Research Foundation Award, and studied cell-cell signaling both in the Dept. of Developmental Biology at Stanford University and in the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon. She is an Associate Professor in the Molecular and Medical Genetics Department at OHSU, joined the Center in 2003, and became the Director of the Primate Genetics Program in 2008. Dr. Ferguson also holds an appointment as a Research Scientist at the Washington National Primate Research Center in Seattle, Washington.



Cervera-Juanes R, Wilhem LJ, Park B, Lee R, Locke J, Helms C, Gonzales S, Wand G, Jones SR, Grant KA, Ferguson B (2015) MAOA expression predicts vulnerability for alcohol use. Molecular Psychiatry. 10.1038/mp.2015.93 PMID: 26148813.

Zimin AV, Cornish AS, Maudhoo MD, Gibbs RM, Zhang X, Pandey S, Meehan DT, Wipfler K, Bosinger SE, Johnson ZP, Tharp GK, Marcais G, Roberts M, Ferguson B, Fox HS, Treangen T, Salzberg SL, Yorke JA, Norgren RB Jr. (2014) A new rhesus macaque assembly and annotation for next-generation sequencing analyses. Medline. 9(1):20. doi: 10.1186/1745-6150-9-20. PMID: 25319552.

Dietrich EA, Brennan G, Ferguson B, Wiseman RW, O'Connor D and Hsu SL. (2011) Variable prevalence and functional diversity of the antiretroviral restriction factor TRIMCyp in Macaca fascicularis. J Virol. 85(19):9956-9963. PMID: 21795330. PMCID: PMC3196437.

Lomniczi A, Garcia-Rudaz C, Ramakrishnan R, Wilmot B, Khouangsathiene S, Ferguson B, Dissen GA, and Ojeda SR. (2012) A single nucleotide polymorphism in the EAP1 gene is associated with amenorrhea/oligomenorrhea in nonhuman primates. Endocrinology. [epub ahead of print] PMID: 2218021. PMCID: PMC3249686.

Yuan Q, Zhou Z, Lindell SG, Higley JD, Ferguson B, Thompson RC, Lopez JF, Suomi SJ, Baghai B, Baker M, Mash DC, Barr CS, and Goldman D. (2012) The rhesus macaque is three times as diverse but more closely equivalent in damaging coding variation as compared to the human. BMC Genet. 2012 Jun 29;13(1):52. [EPUB AHEAD OF PRINT]. PMID: 22747632.

Ferguson B, Hunter JE, Luty J, Street SL, Woodall A, and Grant KA. (2012) Genetic load is associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation in macaques. Genes Brain Behav. 8:497-57. PMID: 22998353.

See a full listing of Dr. Ferguson's publications.