Aurora Nedelcu



Bailey Hall 266

1 506 458 7463

Academic interests

  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genome/Molecular Evolution
  • Cancer Biology

Brief biography

Dr. Aurora Nedelcu received her BSc (Biology) from Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca, Romania) in 1988. Prior to coming to Canada to start her PhD, Dr. Nedelcu has worked for several years as a Biology teacher in a Secondary School, as a Research Scientist in an Electron Microscopy Lab, and as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry.

She completed her PhD (Biology) at Dalhousie University (1993-1997) and then continued her training as a postdoctoral fellow in the Organelle Genome Megasequencing Lab at the Universite de Montreal (1998) and as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Associate in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Arizona (1998 – 2002).

Dr. Nedelcu has joined the Biolgy Department at UNB in 2002, where she is currently a Professor. She also holds an Adjunct position in the Departament of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Nedelcu’s general research interests center around understanding how and why biological systems evolve, especially in terms of major innovations and the emergence of new levels of complexity. Most of her current research is rooted in the framework of transitions in individuality and complexity (at a conceptual level) and of cellular responses to stress, gene co-option and trade-offs (at a mechanistic level). She is using a combination of approaches (experimental and theoretical), spanning various levels of biological organization (genes, genomes, cells, individuals) and fields(genetics/genomics, molecular/cell/developmental biology, experimental evolution).

Specific areas include:

  • Molecular, gene and genome (both nuclear and organelle) evolution
  • The genetic basis of key transitions and major innovations in evolution – such as the evolution of multicellularity, development, cell differentiation, programmed cell death, sex
  • Evolution of cooperation and altruism
  • Evolution and cancer

The model-systems currently used are the volvocine green algae and human cancer cell lines.

Courses taught

  • BIOL2043 – Cell Biology
  • BIOL2251 – Clinical Microbiology
  • BIOL3242 – Molecular Evolution
  • BIOL4123 – Major Evolutionary Transitions
  • BIOL4123 – Selected Topics in Evolution
  • BIOL4123 – Evolutionary Medicine

Selected research

Jong ED, Chan ICW, and AM Nedelcu. 2019. A model-system to address the impact of phenotypic heterogeneity and plasticity on the development of cancer therapies. Frontiers in Oncology 9:842

Nedelcu AM. 2019. Independent evolution of complex development in animals and plants: Deep homology and lateral gene transfer. Development Genes and Evolution 229:25-34.

May AN, Crawford B, AM Nedelcu. 2018. In vitro model-systems to understand the biology and clinical significance of circulating tumor cell clusters. Frontiers in Oncology 8:63.

Nedelcu AM. 2017. Understanding ancient legacies to expose and exploit cancer’s evolutionary vulnerabilities. In Ujvari B, Roche B, Thomas F (Eds) “Ecology and Evolution of Cancer”. Pp 203-209. Elsevier.

Olson BJSC and AM Nedelcu. 2016. Co-option during the evolution of multicellularity and developmental complexity in the volvocine green algae. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 39:107-115.