Short Bio:

Dr. Rajcan-Separovic is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia and a Clinical Cytogeneticist in the Division of Laboratory Genomics, Department of Pathology at BC Children’s Hospital. She is also an Investigator at the Children’s and Women’s Hospital Research Institute.

She did her clinical and postdoctoral research training at the University of Ottawa and Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. After coming to Vancouver in 1997, she continued her clinical practice and established a research program in genomic causes of developmental disorders including childhood developmental delay and early pregnancy loss. Her current interest includes diagnosis of genetic changes by microarray and next generation sequencing and finding the functional consequences of identified changes in patient cells and in animal models in order to better understand the connection between the health issues in patients and the defects in their genes. She was supported by CIHR and MSFHR salary awards for 10 years and has been the recipient as a principal investigator or co-investigator of a large number of CIHR and CFI operational and infrastructure awards.

Academic background

  • Michael Smith Foundation of Health Research Scholar, 2008-2014
  • CIHR Clinical Investigatorship, 2005-2009
  • Fellow of the Canadian College of Medical Genetics, subspecialty cytogenetics, 1998-present
  • CCMG Postdoctoral Fellowship (Clinical Cytogenetics), Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, 1995-1997
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (Genetics) University of Ottawa, Ontario, 1993-1995
  • NSERC Visiting Fellowship, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, 1991-1993
  • PhD, University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Molecular Cytogenetics. 1989
  • MSc, University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Cytogenetics. 1985
  • BSc, University of Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, Biology. 1983

Research Interest

Genomic changes in human miscarriages and their functional consequences
Pregnancy loss is a significant health concern as 15 per cent of clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the highest rate in the first trimester. Although finding the cause of pregnancy loss is essential for prognosis, recurrence risk counseling, and the management of all future pregnancies, the cause remains unknown in 30-50 per cent of all cases. Our studies focus on finding the genomic cause of abnormal human embryo development and miscarriage. We have shown show that 30% of sporadic and recurrent miscarriages have small and unique chromosomal gains and losses, detectable only by CMA. These genomic abnormalities are frequently inherited from one of the parents and could represent predisposing genetic factors for recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). Functional follow-up of candidate miscarriage genes in the pregnancy loss as well as the use of next generation sequencing to identify pathogenic mutation are currently the main focus of this study (for more information see http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/43150.html).

Genomics of intellectual disability
Intellectual disability (ID) is a diagnosis given to persons who have life-long cognitive and adaptive impairments that commence in early life. ID affects about 1-3 per cent of the population, and cause remains unknown in at least 40 per cent of all cases. We are using chromosome microarray technology (CMA) and next generation sequencing to detect small chromosomal and DNA changes in children with ID. We are also interested in understanding how these changes affect the gene function by assessing RNA and protein expression as well as gene-specific pathways. For more information see http://www.research-europe.com/magazine/healthcare2/hc22/index.html.