Lucia Caceres

Research Associate


My general research goal has been to answer basic biological questions in the field of neurobiology, developmental biology and genetics using model organisms. Until recently, I have focused on Drosophila, and I am excited to enter a new research area using Zebrafish as the model organism. Due to its genetic, morphological, and physiological similarities to humans, Zebrafish makes an excellent model organism for studies of in vivo imaging and drug screening. I am now studying cancer and rare disorders as part of the Scientific and Clinical Hub for Orphan Drug Development of the PROFYLE project, as well as developing preclinical drug screening platforms.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, I used biochemical and genetic tools to elucidate the function of nuclear receptors and their ligands in Drosophila under the supervision of Dr. Henry Krause. Nuclear receptors are a superfamily of proteins that are highly conserved from invertebrates to humans. Specifically, I showed that nitric oxide gas couples with two nuclear receptor proteins to modify gene expression and alter the metabolic state of the organism. This work was important because the mammalian counterparts of these nuclear receptors have been implicated in lipid metabolism and circadian rhythm.

Since nitric oxide and various nuclear receptors are implicated in circadian rhythm and vision, I became interested in neuroscience and joined Prof. Ian Meinertzhagen’s team at Dalhousie University. Here I focused on elucidating the functional role of neuronal circuitry and whether nitric oxide and its nuclear receptor partners contribute to this mechanism.

During my PhD studies with Dr. Laura Nilson at McGill University, I developed a novel genetic technique to produce genetically distinct germline cells within the egg chambers of the Drosophila ovaries. These mosaic egg chambers allowed me to pinpoint the source Gurken production, an important determinant for the body axes of the organism. Furthermore, I showed that translational repression of gurken mRNA depends on its nuclear history.

I completed my BSc with Specialization in Molecular Genetics at the University of Alberta. I worked as a summer student in Dr. Michael Russell’s lab, where I studied the genetic basis of pattern formation in Drosophila wing disc development and then completed my honours project in the lab of Dr. Shelagh Campbell, where I worked on developing and refining a mutagenesis screen for elucidating cell cycle checkpoint mutants in Drosophila.


The Charles. H. Best Postdoctoral Fellowship

Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) CIHR Doctoral Award

Annual McGill Biomedical Graduate Conference (AMBGC)

1st prize poster Award in Developmental Biology

2nd prize poster Award in Genetics                                                                              

1st prize poster Award in Developmental Biology

The AMBGC is an interdisciplinary Research Symposium with four participating universities: McGill University, Concordia University, Université de Montréal and Université du Québec.

Canadian Millennium Bursary

Alma Mater Student Travel Grant


Peer-reviewed Publications

Cáceres, L., Nećakov, A.S ., Schwartz, C., Kimber, S., Roberts, I.J., Krause,H.M (2011). Nitric oxide coordinates metabolism, growth, and development via the Nuclear Receptor E75.  Genes & Development 25(14):1476-85.
Ÿ Reviewed in: Nitric oxide directly regulates gene expression during Drosophila development: need some gas to drive into metamorphosis? (2011). Yamanaka N, O’Connor MB. Genes & Development 25(14):1459-63.

Cáceres, L., Nilson, L.A. (2009).  Translational repression of gurken mRNA in the Drosophila oocyte requires the hnRNP Squid in the nurse cells, Developmental Biology 326(2) : 327-34.

Lécuyer, E., Nećakov, A.S., Cáceres, L., Krause, H.M., (2008). High-resolution fluorescent in situ hybridization of Drosophila embryos and tissues. CSH Protocols 3.

E.A. Silva, B.J. Lee, L.S. Caceres, D. Renouf, B.R. Vilay, O. Yu, J.A. Bradley, and S.D. Campbell (2006). A novel strategy for identifying mutations that sensitize Drosophila eye development to caffeine and hydroxyurea.  Genome 49: 1416-1427.

Cáceres, L. and Nilson, L.A. (2005). Production of gurken in the nurse cells is sufficient for axial patterning in the Drosophila oocyte. Development 132: 2345-2353.

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