The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Departments of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Genomic Medicine
My research program aims to develop cutting-edge tools to elucidate tumor plasticity and to characterize the functional drivers that underlie treatment resistance. Overall, we conduct research in a manner that produces results with immediate translational potential. While my laboratory focuses on renal and pancreatic malignancies, students are encouraged to consider building hypotheses that address the challenges with treating all solid tumors.
My laboratory uses an array of molecular and functional genomics tools, including genetically engineered mouse models (GEM) and CRISPR/Cas9-based technology. Indeed, I have established a CRISPR/Cas9 based, high-throughput method to quickly generate complex mosaic GEM models of cancer. These models enhance the translational potential of our findings because they allow us to faithfully recapitulate the complexity of human diseases. I am also developing novel in vivo tracking methods to enable the isolation and characterization of sub-clonal cell populations within tumors, which may arise from disease progression or from cancerous cells that escape therapeutic intervention. Students will be encouraged to develop interesting and bold hypotheses that aim to delineate the plastic states of malignant cells, tumor heterogeneity, and the complex nature of drug resistance. Potential tutorial projects may include investigating the role of progenitor stem cells in solid tumors as well as characterizing the functional drivers of mesenchymal reprogramming and the dynamics of malignant progression in renal cell carcinoma. Additionally, my students will be expected to present their research at laboratory and scientific meetings, apply for grants and fellowships, as well as write up their research for publication.
Education & Training
MD, University of Rome, 2004
PhD, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, 2014