Dean Betts

Genetics & Development Dr. Dean Betts


Scientist, Division of Genetics & Development, Children’s Health Research Institute
Associate Professor, Departments of Physiology & Pharmacology, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University
Adjunct Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Guelph
Associate Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute

How my research helps children

Since 1988, greater than 10,000 cord blood transplants have been performed to treat a wide variety of childhood diseases including Fanconi’s anemia, leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers, bone marrow failure, among other blood and metabolic disorders. To improve the utility of cord blood in stem cell transplants and in regenerative medicine, we aim to utilize umbilical cord blood to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Using various cell models, we are studying many aspects of cell reprogramming to understand and improve iPSC generation. The chemical-only induction of pluripotency from cord blood stem cells will provide a non-invasive source of pluripotent stem cells, without the need of viruses and permanent changes to the genome, thus reducing the cancer risk and possibly improving the reprogramming efficiency of this technology.

Should a child ever become ill and require a stem cell transplant, their own perfectly matched cells will be immediately available throughout their lifetime, with no risk of immune rejection. Cord blood collection at the time of birth is an easy, non-invasive means of obtaining a young, therapeutic stem cell that can be efficiently induced towards pluripotency for potential treatment of many childhood and adult diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, stroke, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s and spinal cord injury.


Current Research Activities

  1. The role of p66Shc in ROS-induced senescence.
  2. Low oxygen induction of pluripotent genes in human umbilical cord blood derived multi-lineage progenitor cells.
  3. Premature senescence in hypoxia-induced intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).
  4. Extra-telomeric effects of TERT in pluripotency and self-renewal.
  5. Redox regulation of genes involved in stem cell pluripotency and self-renewal.

Research Team

Dr. Adam Stankiewicz, PDF
Lida Radan, Research Associate
Kyle Dailey, Research Associate
Heather Mulholland, MSc trainee
Stephanie Halllows, MSc trainee

Past Lab Members (University of Guelph)
Nathan Bain (PhD; 2010)
Ryan Figueroa (MSc; 2009); Research Associate, Aarhus University, Denmark
Lisa Cowan (MSc, Leeds; 2003); Laboratory Director, Victoria Fertility Centre
Steven Perrault (MSc; 2005); PhD student, University of Toronto
Daniela Fischer Russell (PhD; 2006); Human Stem Cell Library, McMaster University
Jared Wilcox (MSc; 2008); MD/PhD student, University of Toronto
Thomas Koch (PhD; 2008); PDF, Aarhus University, Denmark
Dr. Pavneesh Madan (PDF; 2006-2008); Assistant Professor, University of Guelph
Matt Eyre (MSc; 2009); MSc student, Human Fertility Program, Monash University
Rob Battista (MSc; 2009); MD program, University of Toronto
Colleen Fitzpatrick, Research Associate (2009); MSc student, University of Guelph
Lucy Lin (technician)
Esther Semple (Lab manager)

Future Research Plans

To characterize the function of the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) splice variants expressed in human embryonic stem cells under hypoxia conditions.

To understand the role of the stress adaptor protein p66Shc in redox regulation of pluripotency and self-renewal in stem cells.

To establish a Cell Reprogramming Laboratory (CRL) to study various reprogramming events in the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Awards & Grants

Awards & Grants

Funding in support of "Extra-telomeric Functions of Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase (TER) Isoforms" – Awarded by Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)

Funding in support of "Redox Regulation of Canine Embryonic Stem Cells" – Awarded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Funding in support of "Immunological and chondrogenic evaluation of canine stem cells" – Awarded by Morris Animal Foundation

Funding in support of "Telomerase Therapy for Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)" – Awarded by Lawson Health Research Institute (LHRI)

Funding in support of "Cellular Reprogramming Laboratory to Evaluate Epigenetic Programming Events During Development and in the Generation of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells" – Awarded by CFI-IOF

Funding in support of "Development of transgenic technologies to study pluripotency and stem cell fate" – Awarded by UWO-Academic Development Fund (ADF)

Funding in support of “Chemical Induction of pluripotent stem cells from human umbilical cord blood stem cells” – Awarded by Children’s Health Research Institute

Funding in support of “Generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in pre-clinical domestic animal models” – Awarded by The University of Western Ontario

Funding in support of “Proliferative potential, trilineage potency and allogenic evaluation of equine cord blood stem cells” – Awarded by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

Funding in support of “Proliferative potential, trilineage potency and allogenic evaluation of equine cord blood stem cells” – Awarded by Equine Guelph

Funding in support of “The role of p66Shc in ROS-mediated cellular senescence” – Awarded by Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)

Recent Publications


Stress-inducible phosphoprotein 1 has unique co-chaperone activity during development and regulates cellular response to ischemia via the prion protein
Beraldo FH et al
FASEB J. 2013; 27(9):3594-607

Early embryonic development, assisted reproductive technologies, and pluripotent stem cell biology in domestic mammals
Hall V*, Hinrichs K*, Lazzari G*, Betts DH*, Hyttel P
Vet J. 2013; 197(2):128-42
*Equal contributions

Methods for the derivation of canine embryonic stem cells
Tobias IC, Brooks CR, Teichroeb JH, Betts DH
Methods Mol Biol. 2013; 1074:69-83

Elevated p66Shc is associated with intracellular redox imbalance in developmentally compromised bovine embryos
Bain NT, Madan P, Betts DH
Mol Reprod Dev. 2013; 80(1):22-34

The Long and Short of it: The Role of Telomeres in Fetal Origins of Adult Disease
Hallows SE, Regnault TR, Betts DH
Journal of Pregnancy. 2012

Mass Spectrometry-Based Proteomics Analysis of the Matrix Microenvironment in Pluripotent Stem Cell Culture
Hughes C, Radan L, Stanford W, Betts DH, Postovit L-M, Lajoie GA
Mol Cell Proteomics. 2012; 11(12):1924-1936

Long telomeres bypass the requirement for telomere maintenance in human tumorigenesis
Taboski MAS, Sealey DCF, Tayade C, Betts DH*, Harrington LA*
Cell Reports. 2012; 1:91-98
*Co-senior authors

Low Levels of X-Inactive Specific Transcript in Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer Embryos Derived from Female Bovine Freemartin Donor Cells
Jeon B-G, Rho G-J, Betts DH, JJ Petrik, Favetta LA, King WA
Sex Dev. 2012; 6(1-3):151-9

Proteomic Analysis of Extracellular Matrices used in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Culture
Hughes CS, Radan L, Betts DH, Postovit LM, Lajoie GA
Proteomics. 2011 June

Synaptically-Competent Neurons Derived from Canine Embryonic Stem Cells by Lineage Selection with EFG and Noggin
Wilcox J, Lai JKY, Semple E, Brisson BA, Gartley C, Armstrong JN, Betts DH
PLoS ONE. 2011; 6(5):e19768

In Vitro and In Vivo Germ Line Potential of Stem Cells Derived from Newborn Mouse Skin
Dyce PW, Liu J, Tayade C, Kidder GM, Betts DH
PLoS ONE. 2011; 6(5):e20339

In vitro developmental potential of nuclear transfer embryos cloned with enucleation methods using pre-denuded bovine oocytes
Jeon BG, Betts DH, King W, Rho GJ
Reprod Domest Anim. 2011 March

Osteogenic differentiation of equine cord blood MSCs within coralline hydroxyapatite scaffolds in vitro
Figueroa RJ, Koch TG, Betts DH
Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol. 2011 June

Viable iPSC mice: a step closer to therapeutic applications in humans?
Betts DH, Kalionis B
Mol Hum Reprod. 2010 Feb; 16(2):57-62

Improved isolation protocol for equine cord blood-derived mesenchymal stromal cells
Koch TG, Thomsen PD, Betts DH
Cytotherapy. 2009; 11(4):443-7

Current and future regenerative medicine - principles, concepts, and therapeutic use of stem cell therapy and tissue engineering in equine medicine
Koch TG, Berg LC, Betts DH
Can Vet J. 2009 Feb; 50(2):155-65

Characterization of canine embryonic stem cell lines derived from different niche microenvironments
Wilcox JT, Semple E, Gartley C, Brisson BA, Perrault SD, Villagómez DA, Tayade C, Becker S, Lanza R, Betts DH
Stem Cells Dev. 2009 Oct; 18(8):1167-78

Additional publications



Phone: (519) 661-2111, x83786
Fax: (519) 661-3827
Email: dean [dot] betts [at] schulich [dot] uwo [dot] ca

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