BS Biology
Newcomb College at Tulane University

BA Studio Art
Newcomb College at Tulane University

Tulane University School of Medicine


Dr. Tsien obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Arts specializing in Studio Art from Tulane University in New Orleans. She received her PhD degree from the Hayward Genetics Center, Human Genetics Program at the Tulane University School of Medicine.

At Tulane University School of Medicine, she was the Supervisor of the Molecular Cytogenetics Laboratory in the Hayward Genetics Center, Human Genetics Program. During her post-doctoral training she was the recipient of a fellowship grant from the Fascioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD) Society. Dr. Tsien is board certified by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners and by the National Certification Agency for Laboratory Personnel as a specialist in the field of Cytogenetics. Dr. Tsien accepted a faculty position in the Department of Genetics at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in January of 2003. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Medical Student Research. 

Her current research focuses on chromosome, chromatin, and epigenetic instability and their relationship to cancer, genetic disease, diagnosis, and therapies on childhood cancers (e.g., rhabdomyosarcoma and leukemia) in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, Louisiana (CHNOLA).  Her research also focuses on the genetics of congenital hearing loss in the Louisiana Acadian (Cajun) and Mexican Mayan populations in collaboration with the Department of Communication Disorders in the School of Allied Health Professions at LSUHSC, Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, and the Genetics Division at the Universidad Juarez Autonoma de Tabasco in Villahermosa, Mexico. This project examines hearing loss caused by multiple variants/mutations found in the Mexican Mayan and the Louisiana Acadian founder populations and will provide further insight into the mechanisms behind genetic SNHL. She has presented her research at local, national, and international conferences to the clinical and scientific community, and to the lay public.

She is involved in genetics education at a variety of levels, teaching residents, post-doctoral fellows, medical students, graduate students, undergraduates, elementary, middle, and high school (K-12) students, and teachers. The directs the Science Youth Initiative for K-12 students, which goals are to  make science topics more interesting and accessible in preparation for standardized testing, introduce students to diverse role models in the sciences, and to assist K-12 students to improve their grades as they consider careers in the health and basic sciences. Through at least 75 workshops, more than 2600 students from rural and urban K-12 schools from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds have been introduced to science education. She is also the Executive Producer of K-12 educational videos for K-12 students. Dr. Tsien directs and organizes multiple community outreach projects at the Children's Museum, New Orleans Audubon Zoo in celebration of DNA Day, and the Que Pasa? Latino Festival.

Dr. Tsien also directs the NSF- funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program on Genomics, the NIH and Entergy Foundation funded-Summer Research Internship Program, the NIH-funded Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education (ENDURE) program, and the Southeast Partnership for Improving Research & Training in Cancer Center Health Disparities (SPIRIT-CHD). The main goal of her educational programs is to increase the number of individuals from racial and ethnic groups classically underrepresented in STEM, rural communities, non-traditional, or disadvantaged backgrounds, and those who are first in their generation to attend college, to health and basic science careers.

Dr. Tsien is a member of the LSUHSC Graduate School Multicultural and Diversity Committee, Association of Women in Science, Stanley Scott Cancer Center, and the American Society of Human Genetics. She has won the 2011 LSU School of Medicine Faculty Assembly Award for Outstanding Service to the Community, the 2012 LSU School of Medicine Excellence award for Teaching and Service, and the 2013 Jack Hines III Memorial Award for Outstanding Service.

Clinical Interests

  • Chromosome abnormalities
  • Epigenetic disorders
  • Cancer cytogenetics
  • Genetics of the Louisiana Acadian (Cajun) and the Mexican Mayan populations
  • Genetics of Hearing Disorders

Research Interests

  • Epigenetic mechanisms
  • Cancer cytogenetics
  • Chromatin instability in disorders that affect the Louisiana Acadian (Cajun) and Mexican Mayan populations
  • Genetics of auditory and communication disorders
  • Genetics education, especially in the fields of Cytogenetics and Epigenetics
  • Science education to the New Orleans community
  • Mutlicultural affairs, specifically promoting research careers to underrepresented minorities in the sciences

Teaching Activities

Course Director, INTER 141, Introduction to Genetics, Interdisciplinary Program, LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies

Course Director, INTER 180, Science Teaching, Interdisciplinary Program, LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies

Course Director, GENET 234 Epigenetics, Department of Genetics, LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies

Course Director, GENET 292 Human Cytogenetics, Department of Genetics, LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies

Course Director, SPTHAUD 7225 Genetics, Department of Communication Disrders, LSUHSC School of Allied Health Professions

Course Co-director, Molecular Pathology, Department of Pathology Residency Program, LSUHSC School of Medicine

Lecturer, Medical Genetics, LSUHSC School of Medicine

Lecturer, INTER 122 Molecular Biology, "Chromosome structure", LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies

Lecturer, INTER 123 Control of Gene Expression, "Epigenetics", LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies

Lecturer, SPTHAUD 6220, Craniofacial anomalies, “Cytogenetics and dysmorphology”, Department of Communication Disorders, LSUHSC School of Allied Health Professions

Lecturer, MTEC 5119, Introduction to Molecular Diagnostics, “Diagnostics and Genetics”, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, LSUHSC School of Allied Health Professions



Committees & Administrative Responsibilities

  • Director, Science Youth Initiative (SYI)
  • Director, Research Experiences for Undergraudates (REU)
  • Director, LSUHSC-New Orleans Public School Science Partnership Program
  • Co-Director, Summer Research Internship Program
  • Co-Director, Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)
  • Member, Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center
  • Member, LSUHSC-NO Graduate School Multicultural/Diversity Committee
  • Reviewer: International Journal of Audiology, PLOS ONE, National Science Foundation
  • Co-editor, Louisiana Genetics and Hereditary Health Care Education Center website


Selected Publications

  1. Olivia A. Erickson, et. al, Fern Tsien, Erin L. Dolan, “How do we do this at a distance?!” A descriptive study of remote undergraduate research programs during COVID-19", American Society for Cell Biology CBE- Life Sciences Education, 2021(preprint: bioRxiv 2021.05.17.443632; doi:
  2. Gleditsch Katrina, Peñas Jorge, Mercer Danielle, Umrigar Ayesha, Briscoe James, Stark Matthew, Tsien Fern, Hollenbach Andrew D., Intratumoral Translocation Positive Heterogeneity in Pediatric Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma Tumors Correlates to Patient Survival Prognosis, Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology , (8) September 2020, p987, DOI=10.3389/fcell.2020.564136   
  3. Ethan Nicklow, Tarun Karthik Kumar Mamidi, Jiande Wu, Fern Tsien, Chindo Hicks. Transcriptome Analysis of Molecular Signatures and Pathways Modulating White Blood Cell Count in Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Biomedical Journal of Scientific and Technical Research, 2019 July, 20(1)- 2019. BJSTR. MS.ID.003380. 
  4. Jacob Elnaggar, Fern Tsien, Clayton Yates, Melisa Davis, Lucio Miele, Chindo Hicks. An Integrative Genomics Approach for Associating Genetic Susceptibility with the Tumor Immune Microenvironment in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Biomedical Journal of Scientific and Technical Research 2019 Feb, 15(1)-2019.
  5. Moore Michelle, Karpinski Aryn, Tsien Fern, An Examination of an Interactive Substance Abuse Prevention Program for High School Students, Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, Volume 27, Sep 28, 2018  Issue 5-6
  6. Umrigar A, Musso A, Mercer D, Hurley A, Glausier C, Bakeer M, Marble M, Hicks C, Tsien F. Delayed diagnosis of a patient with Usher syndrome 1C in a Louisiana Acadian family highlights the necessity of timely genetic testing for the diagnosis and management of congenital hearing loss. SAGE Open Medical Case Reports. 2017 Dec 11;5:2050313X17745904.
  7. Mercer D, Hurley A, Tsien  F, Detailed Audiological Evaluation of a Patient with Xeroderma Pigmentosum with Neural Degeneration, Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, Volume 28, Number 1, January 2017, pp. 80-90(11)
  8. Loupe J, Miller P, Bonner B, Maggi E, Vijayaraghavan J, Zabaleta J, Taylor C, Tsien F, Crabtree J, and Hollenbach A, Acquisition of an Oncogenic Fusion Protein Serves as an Initial Driving Mutation by Inducing Aneuploidy and Overriding Proliferative Defects, Oncotarget, 2016 Aug 7(39), 62814-62835
  9. Bonvillain R, Scarritt M, Pashos M, Sullivan DE, Betancourt AM, Tsien F, Umrigar A, Hoffman AM, Bunnell B, Characterization of Rhesus Macaque Lung-Resident Multipotent Stromal Cells: Potential Cell Source for Pulmonary Tissue Engineering, Cell and Gene Therapy Insights 2016; 2(1), 49-72. 
  10. Howe B, Umrigar A, Tsien F. Chromosome Preparation from Cultured Cells, Journal of Visualized Experiments. 2014 Jan 28;(83)
  11. Kibe R, Zhang S, Marrero L, Khan S, Zieske A, Huang J, Durum S, Tsien F, Iwakuma T, Cui Y,* Cross-talk between IL-7Rα signaling and p53 pathway in maintaining chromosomal stability during thymopoiesis and preventing lymphomagenesis, Cell Death and Differentiation. 2012 Jul;19(7):1139-51.
  12. Tsien F , Chromosomes, Center for Acadiana Genetics and Hereditary Health Care, Doucet J and Tsien F, Ed. (2011)
  13. Tsien F, Chromosome abnormalities, Center for Acadiana Genetics and Hereditary Health Care, Doucet J and Tsien F, Ed. (2011)
  14. Izadpanah R, Kaushal D, Kriedt C, Tsien F, Patel B, Dufour J, Bunnell BA, Long-term in vitro expansion alters the biology of adult mesenchymal stem cells, Cancer Research. 2008, Jun 68(11):4229-38.
  15. Tsien F, Morava E, Talarski A, Marble M., Phenotypic features in a boy with trisomy of 16q22—qter due to paternal Y;16 translocation, Clinical Dysmorphology. 2005, Oct;14(4):177-81.
  16. Morava E, Jackson KE, Tsien F, Marble MR. Trisomy 1q43 syndrome: a consistent phenotype with macrocephaly, characteristic face, developmental delay and cardiac anomalies.Genetic Counseling; 2004,15(4):449-53.
  17. Tsien F, Fiala ES, Youn B, Long TI, Laird PW, Weissbecker K, & Ehrlich M: Prolonged culture of normal chorionic villus cells yields ICF syndrome-like chromatin decondensation and rearrangements, Cytogenetics and Genome Research. 2002, 98(1): 13-21.



Additional Info

Past and present lab members:

From left to right: Mary Moore, Dr. Fern Tsien, Alejandra Valdés Marín, Aminta Hernández Marín, Dr. Danielle Mercer, Ayesha Umrigar

2014 12:38:50 PM
From left to right: Sharon Rainey, Ayesha Umrigar, Bradley Howe, Mohammad Abughazleh, Dr. Betsy Bateman, Dr. Fern Tsien

2014 12:42:29 PM
Dr. Amanda Musso, Kashanda Foley, and Ayesha Umrigar