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Alan AitchisonAssistant Research Fellow
PhD candidate

BSc(Hons)(Dund) MSc(Kent)

Email alan.aitchison@otago.ac.nz

Alan works with Dr Jacqui Keenan, studying the role of gut bacteria in the development of inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

His background is in genetics and he has previously worked in the Gene Structure and Function Laboratory and the Cancer Genetics Research Group within the University of Otago, Christchurch.

Prior to arriving in Christchurch he spent 8 years working in Cambridge, UK on the genetics and epigenetics of prostate and other cancers as well as the genetics of drug resistance in HIV.

Research Interests

  • Epigenetics and imprinting control (1997-99)
  • Epigenetic control of gene regulation in cancer (1999-2005)
  • HIV drug resistance (1999-2000)
  • Cancer genetics (2005-2007)
  • Psychiatric genetics (2008-2013)
  • The role of gut bacteria in the development of inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer (2013 - present)

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Publications

Keenan, J., Aitchison, A., Leaman, J., Pearson, J., & Frizelle, F. (2019). Faecal biomarkers do not always identify pre-cancerous lesions in patients who present in primary care with bowel symptoms. New Zealand Medical Journal, 132(1501), 48-56. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Keenan, J. I., Aitchison, A., Pearson, J. F., Frizelle, F. A., & Munday, J. S. (2019). Detection of the Bacteroides fragilis toxin gene in sheep with and without small intestinal adenocarcinoma [Short communication]. New Zealand Veterinary Journal. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2019.1651233

Aitchison, A., Hakkaart, C., Kahn, S., Whitehead, M., Frizelle, F., & Keenan, J. (2018). E-cadherin in early-onset colorectal signet-ring cell carcinoma. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society for Oncology (NZSO) Conference. Retrieved from http://www.nzsoncology.org.nz/

Swan, J., Aitchison, A., Hampton, M., & Keenan, J. (2018, September). Asprin's role in preventing e-cadherin cleavage by the carcinogenic Bacteroides Fragilis toxin. Poster session presented at the Otago Spotlight Symposium on Infectious Disease, Wellington, New Zealand.

Budd, G. R., Aitchison, A., Day, A. S., & Keenan, J. I. (2017). The effect of polymeric formula on enterocyte differentiation. Innate Immunity, 23(3), 240-248. doi: 10.1177/1753425916689333

Journal - Research Article

Keenan, J., Aitchison, A., Leaman, J., Pearson, J., & Frizelle, F. (2019). Faecal biomarkers do not always identify pre-cancerous lesions in patients who present in primary care with bowel symptoms. New Zealand Medical Journal, 132(1501), 48-56. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Budd, G. R., Aitchison, A., Day, A. S., & Keenan, J. I. (2017). The effect of polymeric formula on enterocyte differentiation. Innate Immunity, 23(3), 240-248. doi: 10.1177/1753425916689333

Flores, S. E., Aitchison, A., Day, A. S., & Keenan, J. I. (2017). Helicobacter pylori infection perturbs iron homeostasis in gastric epithelial cells. PLoS ONE, 12(9), e0184026. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184026

Appleby, S., Pearson, J. F., Aitchison, A., Spittlehouse, J. K., Joyce, P. R., & Kennedy, M. A. (2017). Mean telomere length is not associated with current health status in a 50-year-old population sample. American Journal of Human Biology, 29(1), e22906. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22906

Chae, A., Aitchison, A., Day, A. S., & Keenan, J. I. (2017). Bovine colostrum demonstrates anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activity in in vitro models of intestinal inflammation and infection. Journal of Functional Foods, 28, 293-298. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2016.11.016

Purcell, R. V., Pearson, J., Aitchison, A., Dixon, L., Frizelle, F. A., & Keenan, J. I. (2017). Colonization with enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis is associated with early-stage colorectal neoplasia. PLoS ONE, 12(2), e0171602. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171602

Aitchison, A., Frizelle, F. A., & Keenan, J. I. (2016). PCR detection of the Bacteroides fragilis enterotoxin gene relies on robust primer design. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 54(1), 239-240. doi: 10.1128/jcm.02785-15

Keenan, J. I., Aitchison, A., Purcell, R. V., Greenlees, R., Pearson, J. F., & Frizelle, F. A. (2016). Screening for enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis in stool samples. Anaerobe, 40, 50-53. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2016.05.004

Wright, E. K., Kamm, M. A., De Cruz, P., Hamilton, A. L., Ritchie, K. J., Keenan, J. I., … Burgess, L., Aitchison, A., … Day, A. S., & Gearry, R. B. (2016). Comparison of fecal inflammatory markers in Crohn's disease. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 22(5), 1086-1094. doi: 10.1097/mib.0000000000000671

Chua, E. W., Cree, S., Barclay, M. L., Doudney, K., Lehnert, K., Aitchison, A., & Kennedy, M. A. (2015). Exome sequencing and array-based comparative genomic hybridisation analysis of preferential 6-methylmercaptopurine producers. Pharmacogenomics Journal, 15, 414-421. doi: 10.1038/tpj.2015.9

Jodczyk, S., Pearson, J. F., Aitchison, A., Miller, A. L., Hampton, M. B., & Kennedy, M. A. (2015). Telomere length measurement on the Roche LightCycler 480 platform. Genetic Testing & Molecular Biomarkers, 19(2), 63-68. doi: 10.1089/gtmb.2014.0208

Stevens, A. J., Stuffrein-Roberts, S., Cree, S. L., Gibb, A., Miller, A. L., Doudney, K., Aitchison, A., Eccles, M. R., Joyce, P. R., … Kennedy, M. A. (2014). G-quadruplex structures and CpG methylation cause drop-out of the maternal allele in polymerase chain reaction amplification of the imprinted MEST gene promoter. PLoS ONE, 9(12), e113955. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113955

Doudney, K., Harley, J. A., Pearson, J. F., Miller, A., Aitchison, A., Kennedy, M. A., Porter, R. J., Elmslie, J. L., & Joyce, P. R. (2009). Upstream genetic variant near INSIG2, influences response to carnitine supplementation in bipolar patients with valproate-induced weight gain. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 21(3), 133-140. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5215.2009.00379.x

Aitchison, A. A., Veerakumarasivam, A., Vias, M., Kumar, R., Hamdy, F. C., Neal, D. E., & Mills, I. G. (2008). Promoter methylation correlates with reduced Smad4 expression in advanced prostate cancer. Prostate, 68(6), 661-674. doi: 10.1002/pros.20730

Aitchison, A., Warren, A., Neal, D., & Rabbitts, P. (2007). RASSF1A promoter methylation is frequently detected in both pre-malignant and non-malignant microdissected prostatic epithelial tissues. Prostate, 67(6), 638-644. doi: 10.1002/pros.20475

Onwuegbusi, B. A., Aitchison, A., Chin, S.-F., Kranjac, T., Mills, I., Huang, Y., … Fitzgerald, R. C. (2006). Impaired transforming growth factor β signalling in Barrett's carcinogenesis due to frequent SMAD4 inactivation. Gut, 55(6), 764-774. doi: 10.1136/gut.2005.076430

Xian, J., Aitchison, A., Bobrow, L., Corbett, G., Pannell, R., Rabbitts, T., & Rabbitts, P. (2004). Targeted disruption of the 3p12 gene, Dutt1/Robo1, predisposes mice to lung adenocarcinomas and lymphomas with methylation of the gene promoter. Cancer Research, 64, 6432-6437. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-2561

Khosla, S., Aitchison, A., Gregory, R., Allen, N. D., & Feil, R. (1999). Parental allele-specific chromatin configuration in a boundary-imprinting-control element upstream of the mouse H19 gene. Molecular & Cellular Biology, 19(4), 2556-2566.

Dean, W., Bowden, L., Aitchison, A., Klose, J., Moore, T., Meneses, J. J., … Feil, R. (1998). Altered imprinted gene methylation and expression in completely ES cell-derived mouse fetuses: Association with aberrant phenotypes. Development, 125, 2273-2282.

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Journal - Research Other

Keenan, J. I., Aitchison, A., Pearson, J. F., Frizelle, F. A., & Munday, J. S. (2019). Detection of the Bacteroides fragilis toxin gene in sheep with and without small intestinal adenocarcinoma [Short communication]. New Zealand Veterinary Journal. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2019.1651233

Keenan, J., Aitchison, A., & Frizelle, F. (2017). Are young people eating their way to bowel cancer? New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1460), 90-92. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Aitchison, A., Hakkaart, C., Kahn, S., Whitehead, M., Frizelle, F., & Keenan, J. (2018). E-cadherin in early-onset colorectal signet-ring cell carcinoma. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society for Oncology (NZSO) Conference. Retrieved from http://www.nzsoncology.org.nz/

Keenan, J., Aitchison, A., Greenlees, R., & Frizelle, F. (2014). Are toxin-producing strains of Bacteroides fragilis involved in colorectal cancer? ANZ Journal of Surgery, 84(Suppl. 1), (pp. 36). doi: 10.1111/ans.12609

Stevens, A. J., Stuffrein-Roberts, S., Macmil, S., Gibb, A., Doudney, K., Miller, A. L., Bagshaw, A., Aitchison, A., Eccles, M. R., Joyce, P. R., … Kennedy, M. A. (2013). Allelic-dropout during PCR of the imprinted MEST promoter caused by interaction between G-quadruplex structures and DNA methylation. Proceedings of the 4th International Meeting on G-quadruplex Nucleic Acids: From Structure to Chemistry and Biology. 83. Retrieved from http://www.g4meeting2013.com/

Doudney, K., Harley, J. A., Pearson, J. F., Miller, A., Aitchison, A., Kennedy, M. A., Porter, R. J., Elmslie, J. L., & Joyce, P. R. (2009). Upstream genetic variant near INSIG2 is associated with adipose metabolism in bipolar patients with valproate induced weight gain. Proceedings of the 5th Annual Carney Pharmacogenomics Symposium. Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/christchurch/otago019049.pdf

Robertson, M., Jewell, U., Moon, S. Y., Aitchison, A., McDonald, M., Taylor, J. C., Robertson, S., & Morris, C. M. (2007). Molecular characterisation of a mosaic karyotype showing supernumerary dicentric ring chromosome and a supernumerary marker reveals chromosome band 4q12 origin. Proceedings of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia Annual Scientific Meeting. (pp. 109). Retrieved from http://www.hgsa.com.au/images/UserFiles/Attachments/Posters.pdf

Benjes, S. M., Walker, L. C., Aitchison, A., Ganly, P. S., Spearing, R. L., & Morris, C. M. (2006). DNA sequence features of additional partner chromosome-BCR junction fragments associated with complex BCR-ABLI rearrangements of CML. Proceedings of the 11th International Congress of Human Genetics. Retrieved from http://www.ichg2006.com/abstract/788.htm

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Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

Swan, J., Aitchison, A., Hampton, M., & Keenan, J. (2018, September). Asprin's role in preventing e-cadherin cleavage by the carcinogenic Bacteroides Fragilis toxin. Poster session presented at the Otago Spotlight Symposium on Infectious Disease, Wellington, New Zealand.

Stevens, A., Stuffrein-Roberts, S., Miller, A., Gibb, A., Doudney, K., Bagshaw, A., Aitchison, A., Eccles, M., … Kennedy, M. (2012, August). G-quadruplex DNA structures, genomic imprinting and allelic drop-out in PCR. Poster session presented at the Queenstown Molecular Biology (QMB) Meetings, Queenstown, New Zealand.

Robertson, M., Jewell, U., Moon, S. Y., Aitchison, A., McDonald, M., Robertson, S., & Morris, C. M. (2008, August-September). Molecular characterisation by array CGH of a mosaic constitutional karyotype showing supernumerary ring chromosomes: A clinical case study. Poster session presented at the Queenstown Molecular Biology Meetings, Queenstown, New Zealand.

Robertson, M., Jewell, U., Moon, S. Y., Aitchison, A., McDonald, M., Robertson, S., & Morris, C. M. (2008, May). Molecular characterisation of a mosaic karyotype showing supernumerary dicentric ring chromosome and a supernumerary marker reveals chromosome band 4q12 origin. Poster session presented at the 4th International DECIPHER Symposium, Hinxton, UK.

Gough, S., Jewell, U., Aitchison, A., Ganly, P., & Morris, C. (2007, August). A novel gene and TdT(DNTT) in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Poster session presented at the 17th Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting, Queenstown, New Zealand.

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Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Keenan, J., Aitchison, A., Greenlees, R., Pearson, J., & Frizelle, F. (2014, October). Are toxin-producing strains of Bacteroides fragilis involved in colorectal cancer? Verbal presentation at the New Zealand Society for Oncology (NZSO) Conference, Tauranga, New Zealand.

Stevens, A. J., Stuffrein-Roberts, S., Miller, A. L., Gibb, A., Doudney, K., Bagshaw, A., Aitchison, A., Eccles, M. R., … Kennedy, M. A. (2012, August). G-quadruplex DNA structures, genomic imprinting and allelic drop-out in PCR. Verbal presentation at the Queenstown Molecular Biology (QMB) Meetings, Queenstown, New Zealand.

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