Dr. Beattie, Tara

Dr. Tara Lyn Beattie

Pronouns: she/her



Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute


Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute


Robson DNA Science Centre

Contact information

Phone number

Office: 403.210.8651
Lab: 403.210.9380


Office: HRIC2B28

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Preferred method of communication

Admin Assistant

Diana Law

Email: medgse@ucalgary.ca

Office: 403.220.5712


Educational Background

B.S. Biochemistry, Queen's University, 1992

Doctor of Philosophy Medical Genetics, University of Toronto, 1997


Dr. Tara Beattie is a Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Oncology. She obtained her PhD from the University of Toronto in 1997 and completed her post-doctoral training with Dr. Lea Harrington and the Ontario Cancer Institute from 1997-2000. In 2001, she became an independent investigator at the University of Calgary in the Cumming School of Medicine.


Areas of Research

Area of Focus
  • Functional Interactions within the human telomerase complex.
  • Role of DNA repair proteins in telomere
Summary of Research

My lab focuses on telomere integrity and the enzyme telomerase as a critical factor in the progression of age-related diseases. Telomeres are specialized structures that form the protective ends of linear chromosomes. Telomeres confer stability of our DNA and therefore, telomere structure needs to be maintained in cells, since changes in DNA integrity can lead to multiple disease states. Activation of the enzyme telomerase, which maintains telomere length in dividing cells, is essential for the unregulated growth of many cancer cells. However, in addition there are at least four three disease states that arise from mutations in telomerase, stressing the importance of the delicate balance that must be preserved between telomerase activation and telomerase inhibition – either too much, or too little of the enzyme can be bad for the cell.

Telomerase is a specialized reverse transcriptase that uses an internal RNA template to direct telomere synthesis. In human cells, telomerase activity is associated with hTER, the telomerase RNA, the telomerase RNA binding proteins TEP1, dyskerin, L22 and hStau, and the telomerase reverse transcriptase TEP1. In vitro, hTER and hTERT are both necessary and sufficient to reconstitute telomerase activity in rabbit reticulocyte lysates. I am currently using this reconstitution assay to delineate the functional interactions that are required to reconstitute telomerase activity.

My research interests include both the elucidation of protein/RNA interactions that are essential for telomerase activity as well as the determination of the molecular basis of telomere length regulation in cancer and aging. It has recently been demonstrated that telomerase activity is essential for cellular proliferation and long-term viability of normal human cells in vivo. Knowledge of the composition and structure of the human telomerase complex will be critical to our understanding of how this interesting reverse transcriptase modulates telomere length and cell survival in cancer and aging.

Participation in university strategic initiatives


Course number Course title Semester
MDCH 70069 LEC 04 04 Community Hlth Directed Study 2021


  • award, 2017
  • commendation, 2017
  • scholarship, 2017
  • award, 2014
  • Alberta Cancer Research Institute Salary Award, 2010
  • award, 2009
  • commendation, 2009
  • salary support award, 2009
  • scholarship, 2002
  • scholarship, 2001
  • scholarship, University of Calgary. 1995