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Institute of Advanced Study

Dr Nazir Ganai

COFUND Senior Research Fellow at Ustinov College (October to December 2016)

Dr Ganai is Principal Investigator, OMICS of Pashmina Fiber as well as Coordinator of Bioinformatics Infrastructural Facility and the Star College Program in the Department of Biotechnology

The Pashmina Goat as a Model Animal to Study Hair Biology: Signalling Pathways Regulating Transition from Telogen to Anagen

The Pashmina Goat (Capra hircus) is a unique animal adapted to the very harsh climate of the Ladakh region (Kashmir, India) where temperature levels fluctuate between + 30°C (summer) and - 40°C (winter). It has a double-hair coat with the inner short, very fine (Pashmina) fibres, which arise from secondary follicles, crucial for thermo-regulation during cold. These secondary hair fibres undergo an annual cycle of growth (growth >regression>rest >shedding>growth) during postnatal life that allows the follicle to remodel itself. However, the key signalling molecules controlling this cycling have never been investigated in these follicles, neither is it understood how fibre structure changes with cycling.

This study will involve RNA Seq sequencing to analyse key changes in gene activity in the skin/hair follicles at critical points of the follicle cycle. In Durham the Fellow will interact with computational scientists, to analyse these data, and uncover distinct sets of molecular signals for every phase of the secondary hair follicle cycle, especially those responsible for activating follicle re-growth. Crucially, the study will also entail high resolution imaging of fibres at corresponding stages of the cycle. This work has significance for commercial fibre production (Cashmere Shawls and Stoles), and inhibiting/reversing baldness in human follicles.