The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
Research in my laboratory is directed to understanding how the evolution and clinical behavior of cancers are driven by aberrations in pathways that control developmental patterning. Our research investigates how developmental pathways (1) control evolution of different subtypes of tumors from the same cell-of-origin, (2) control interactions between tumor cells and the microenvironment and (3) cross-talk with other signaling pathways in tumors, with the overall goal of identifying more effective markers for early detection and differential diagnosis of tumors, and focal points for therapeutic intervention.
Our research primarily focuses on the mechanisms and roles of homeobox genes, a gene family encoding transcription factors that control cell lineage-specification. We are particularly interested in studying the functions of these lineage-specification genes in cancers of the reproductive organs because these tissues exhibit dynamic developmental plasticity and are ideal organ systems to study how tumorigenesis is intimately related to development. More recently, our research has also evolved to other organ sites. Our research projects involve well-integrated mechanistic studies of gene regulation, signal transduction and cell-cell interactions, studies using mouse models that recapitulate the clinical behavior of tumors and that enable cell-lineage-tracing and evaluation of clinical samples.
A rotation in my laboratory will provide students with training in these multi-disciplinary skills and strongly integrate cancer biology with developmental biology.
Education & Training
PhD, Australian National University, 1994