Dr. Andrew D. Rhim
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Cancer is a complex entity. During the 10-20 years it takes for malignant tumor to form, a plethora of molecular alterations occur to create a lethal disease. However, the fundamental changes that drive cancer feature select alterations or mutations in DNA and RNA. Our laboratory is interested in understanding how discrete, directed mechanisms of genomic and transcriptomic editing contributes to the establishment of cancer, generation of intratumoral heterogeneity and drug resistance, and finally metastatic spread. Our work focuses on a class of endogenous enzymes called deaminases. These enzymes create mutations and other alterations in both DNA and RNA and are hyperactive in multiple cancers. However, little is known about how they cause changes in cancer cells and what their roles are in cancer. Our work has focused on specific deaminases, including APOBEC3 and 1 isoforms, AICDA, ADAR1, among others, and their role in pancreatic cancer, soon to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. Over the past several years, our laboratory has developed a number of novel tools to address these questions, and our work already identified novel drug targets that may inhibit the development of drug resistance. Tutorials and thesis projects will allow students to learn genetic mouse modeling, routine and custom genomic and transcriptomic sequencing and analysis on our own Illumina sequencer, bioinformatic analysis, cancer biology, basic tumor immunology, human and murine tumor organoid cultures, in addition to established molecular biology techniques in a supportive and passionate laboratory environment.