The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
Although relatively unexplored, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are aberrantly expressed in a broad spectrum of cancers and are involved in promoting and maintaining cancer cell characteristics. The implicated functions of lncRNAs in diverse cancer types make these molecules attractive therapeutic targets. Thus, my laboratory is interested in investigating the regulatory roles played by lncRNAs in cancer-associated pathways that govern mechanisms such as transcription, nuclear architecture modifications, cell growth, invasion, and metastasis. Our efforts will contribute to the identification of new therapeutic targets and their corresponding inhibitors with significant translational potential. Overall, research in my laboratory will focus on developing and utilizing modern technologies to explore a previously unsuspected facet of cancer biology. In collaboration with clinicians at MD Anderson, our research will be directed at the discovery of novel therapeutic agents (e.g. the “LNA Cocktail”) with significant potential to advance the way we think about, diagnose, and treat cancers.
Projects/Techniques: The future projects in my laboratory will use contemporary high-throughput sequencing technologies including ChIP-Seq, RNA-Seq, GRO-Seq, ChIRP-Seq, in combination with a variety of biochemical, molecular, cell-based assays and clinical resources at MDACC to: (1) identify biologically and clinically novel lncRNAs from tissue/serum/urine samples of major cancer types and screen selected lncRNAs in human cancer samples and compare the results to clinical outcomes; (2) uncover the regulatory roles of lncRNAs in cancer-associated pathways at the molecular level; and (3) therapeutically target lncRNAs using locked nucleic acid (LNA)-based antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) in cancer cells and evaluate the effects on in vivo tumor growth and metastasis, providing the platform for translational applications.
10-week Rotation Project: Long Noncoding RNA Targeted Therapy for TNBC - Mice carrying a single copy of a noncoding RNA gene spontaneously develop breast cancer and lung metastases. We will treat tumor-bearing mice with locked nucleic acids (LNAs) with hopes to block tumor initiation and lung metastasis. Tumor burden and animal survival will be monitored.
Education & Training
Ph.D. - Georgia State University - 2006