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HomeFaculty › Colin C. Pritchard MD, PhD

Colin C. Pritchard MD, PhD

photo Dr. Colin Pritchard

Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine
Associate Director, Clinical Molecular Genetics Laboratory

Research Program

The Pritchard laboratory is focused on two areas related to cancer molecular diagnostics:

1) microRNA as blood-based biomarkers.

MicroRNA are a class of small RNAs that regulate gene expression. The recent discovery that microRNA are abundant and surprisingly stable in plasma serum has prompted a flurry of research into the potential of microRNA as non-invasive cancer biomarkers. Yet little is known about the origin of circulating microRNA or what factors influence circulating microRNA levels. My lab seeks to understand which cells contribute to circulating microRNA and to characterize mechanisms that lead to microRNA release into the circulation. The laboratory is also investigating pre-analytic and biological variation that impact serum and plasma microRNA measurements. This research will inform the appropriate use and interpretation of future microRNA-based blood tests.

2) Cancer molecular diagnostics development for precision medicine

A second focus is to develop innovative molecular diagnostics for the detection of germline and somatic mutations that guide therapeutic decision making. Our laboratory has effectively applied technologies such as COLD-PCR to provide highly-sensitive clinical assays for somatic mutation detection. We are currently focused on translating next-generation sequencing technology into clinical practice. As examples, the lab has developed and validated the "ColoSeq™" and the "UW-OncoPlex™" assays, which are clinically available at the University of Washington. UW-OncoPlex™ is a multiplexed gene sequencing panel that detects mutations in tumor tissue in 194 genes related to cancer treatment decision making. Other clinically available assays developed include KRAS, BRAF, EGFR, IDH, KIT and PDGFRA mutational analysis.


Dr. Pritchard is an Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine. He is also the associate director of the clinical molecular genetics laboratory in Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington Medical center, where he focuses on oncology molecular diagnostics.

Selected Publications

  1. Pritchard C, Smith C, Salipante SJ, Lee MK, Thornton AM, Nord AS, Gulden C, Kupfer SS, Swisher E, Bennett RL, Novetsky AP, Jarvik GP, Olopade OI, Goodfellow PJ, King M-C, Tait JF, and Walsh T. ColoSeq Provides Comprehensive Lynch and Polyposis Syndrome Mutational Analysis Using Massively Parallel Sequencing. Journal of Molecular Diagnostics. (2012) 14:357-66.
  2. Pritchard C, Cheng H, Tewari M. MicroRNA Profiling: Approaches and Considerations. Nature Reviews Genetics. (2012) 13:358-69.
  3. Baik CS, Pritchard CC, Eaton KD, Chow LQ. EGFR Mutations in Squamous Cell Lung Cancer in Never-Smokers. Journal of Thoracic Oncology. (2013) 8(1):e6-7.
  4. Pritchard C, Kroh E, Wood K, Arroyo J, Miyagi M, Dougherty K, Tait J, Tewari M. Blood Cell Origin of Circulating MicroRNA: A Cautionary Note for Cancer Biomarker Studies. Cancer Prevention Research (Phila). (2012) 5:492-7.
  5. Arroyo J, Kroh E, Ruf E, Chevillet J, Gibson D, Pritchard C, Tait J, Tewari M. Argonaute2 complexes and vesicles carry distinct populations of circulating microRNAs in human plasma. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (2011) 108:5003-8.
  6. Pritchard C, Akagi L, Reddy P, Joseph L, Tait J. COLD-PCR Enhanced Melting Curve Analysis Improves Diagnostic Accuracy For KRAS Mutations. BMC Clin. Path. (2010) 10:6.
  7. Pritchard C, Grady W. Colorectal cancer molecular biology moves into clinical practice. Gut (2010), 60:116-29.
  8. Pritchard C, Tait F., Buller-Burckle A, Mikula M. Annotation error of a common Beta0-thalassemia mutation (619 bp-deletion) has implications for molecular diagnosis. Amer. J Hem. (2010) 85:978.

Last updated: 12/26/2012

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