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Nyla Heerema, Ph.D.

Nyla Heerema, Ph.D.
Professor, Director of Cytogenetics

The Ohio State University
Department of Pathology
129 Hamilton Hall
1645 Neil Ave
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: (614) 292-7815
Fax: (614) 293-9919

Nyla Heerema, Ph.D.

Project Involvement: Tissue Core/Cytogenetics

Current Areas of Research

Chromosomes in hematological malignancies; chromosome changes in ALL; epidemiology of Down Syndrome and Down Syndrome leukemia (Children’s Oncology Group (COG) study); Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) studies in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL); metaphase analyses of CLL including use of novel mitogenic agents, FISH to localize various genes in the human genome; use of FISH to detect aberrations not detectable in metaphase cells of hematologic samples in interphase cells; development and studies of the application of FISH techniques, use of FISH to localize genes involved in translocation breakpoints; including multicolor FISH to detect multiple aberrations in a single sample; use of multicolor karyotyping to define cytogenetic aberrations in various malignancies. Studies of cytogenetic abnormalities in CLL using FISH, including correlation with clinical parameters, treatment response and outcome, FISH for identification of cytogenetic aberrations for risk stratification in Children’s Oncology Group (COG) clinical trials. Correlative studies of the cytogenetics of pediatric tumors, particularly ALL, using data from the CCG and COG studies. This is a large collaborative effort, and I am in charge of all cytogenetic studies of the COG, including collection of data, review of cases, data entry and management, and analyses. Studies of the cytogenetics of lymphoma in children.


I am the sole Director of the Cytogenetics Laboratory of the Department of Pathology at The Ohio State University Medical Center. The laboratory does over 7000 cytogenetic tests on over 3000 neoplastic and related samples per year, using both standard banded analysis and many different types of FISH analyses. Previously, at the Parker Hughes Cancer Center, I set up and directed a clinical cytogenetics laboratory which was in the process of CAP accreditation. In addition, I directed, through supervisors, all other clinical laboratories at the Parker Hughes Cancer Center. Prior to that, I was at the Department of Medical Genetics of the Indiana University School of Medicine. The cytogenetic laboratory at the Indiana University School of Medicine conducted over 3500 cytogenetic analyses per year. From 1982-1994, I was Assistant Director of this laboratory and had primary responsibility for cytogenetic analyses of cancer specimens. During this time the number of samples studied per year increased from 64 bone marrow specimens to 952 bone marrows and 213 solid tumor specimens per year. From 1994-1998, I was Director of the laboratory, with responsibility for all types of specimens, including prenatal diagnosis, constitutional and cancer specimens. The laboratory was state-of-the-art, performing new tests as they were developed, as well as maintaining high-quality traditional cytogenetic analyses.

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