Genetics and Genome Sciences
Dr. Cotney received his undergraduate degree in Biology in 2002 from Birmingham-Southern College, where he studied the catalytic activities of acetylcholinesterase enzymes from amphioxus with Dr. Leo Pezzementi. He attended graduate school at Emory University in the program of Genetics and Molecular Biology completing his PhD in 2008. Under Dr. Gerald Shadel, he studied the roles of two human mitochondrial transcription factors, TFB1M and TFB2M, in mitochondrial transcription, translation, and retrograde signaling. Dr. Cotney joined the Noonan lab in the summer of 2009. In 2010 he received a Rudolph J. Andersen Fellowship to support his postdoctoral work in the Noonan lab. His research focuses on two areas related to enhancer function: how chromatin states influence enhancer activity during vertebrate limb development and how differential enhancer usage drives human specific phenotypes. Justin has developed techniques to apply ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq technologies to very limiting embryonic tissue. Using these methods has allowed the identification of tens of thousands of enhancers active in the developing limbs of mouse, rhesus, and human. Cross-species comparisons of enhancer utilization in these three species have identified species-specific enhancers that the Noonan lab is currently characterizing. Dr. Cotney has recently accepted a faculty position at the University of Connecticut Health Center. He will be a member of the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences and the Institute for Systems Genomics.