The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention
In my laboratory, we focus on identifying molecules that are necessary for the growth, survival, and transformation of breast cancers. We work to identifying the critical molecular pathways that control breast cell growth, transformation, progression, and metastasis, and then target these molecular pathways to treat and prevent the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. For this research we employ an integrated whole-genome approach with RNA (mRNA, miRNA, and lncRNA), DNA, proteomic, and epigenomic analyses to identify novel and critical molecular pathways in breast cancer cells.
We are currently:
- Identifying critical signaling molecules using innovative screens (synthetic lethality screens, small molecule screens, siRNA/sgRNA screens);
- Investigating the functions of specific critical signaling molecules (kinases, phosphatases, and cytokines) in regulating breast cell growth, death, invasion, and metastasis;
- Developing strategies to target these signaling molecules (using small molecule drugs, liposomal siRNAs, dominant-negative genes) that are capable of blocking or interfering with transformation and cell growth
- Testing the activity of the molecular inhibitors in human clinical trials
We use a wide range of techniques to conduct this research, including bioinformatic and computation biology, whole genome screening methods, molecular biology studies of gene expression, cellular biological studies of normal, premalignant, and fully cancerous human breast cells, studies of human breast samples, and in vivo animal studies using molecular inhibitors in transgenic and knockout mice. We also routinely use systems biology, bioinformatics and high-throughput screening techniques to identify novel signal transduction pathways, which then are targeted to develop new cancer therapies. Through these studies we seek to identify new strategies to treat and prevent breast cancer.
I am currently recruiting PhD students to rotate through the laboratory. Available projects include studies of critical molecules in “triple-negative” breast cancer including kinases (DAPK, MELK, RYK, and others), oncogenic phosphatases (PRL-3 and others), transcription factors (Sox, FOX, STAT transcription factors), and immuno-modulating proteins (cytokines and checkpoint inhibitors). Other available projects include the genomic study of premalignant breast lesions to identify early drivers of breast tumorigenesis, and targeting the micro-environment, mTOR, or alpha-enolase to prevent the development of invasive breast cancer. These projects are funded through NIH grants, a BCRF grant, and a Susan G. Komen grant, as well as through philanthropic funding.
Education & Training
Ph.D. - New York University - 1984
M.D. - New York University - 1985