Research Interests

My research program is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which tumors develop from once-normal cells resident in their natural tissue microenvironments, a process that evidently involves the acquisition of a set of hallmark capabilities that collectively enable tumors to form, grow, and disseminate. To do so we model cancer in mice, by genetically engineering alterations in genes implicated from studying human and animal cancers as being tumor-promoting or tumor-suppressing. The resultant tumor prone mice can be studied, following cancers from their earliest inception through progressively aggressive stages, learning about the mechanisms that drive the pathways to cancer in different organs. One step we have studied extensively involves an angiogenic switch that turns on chronic neovascularization, a process which involves not only the overtly transformed cancer cells but also support cells (immune inflammatory cells, fibroblastic cells) that are recruited to inadvertently support angiogenesis and other acquired capabilities such as invasion and metastasis. Knowledge of cellular and molecular mechanisms is in turn suggesting mechanism-based therapeutic targeting strategies, which are being tested in preclinical trials in mouse model of organ-specific cancer aimed to incentivize and guide clinical trials of new anti-cancer drugs, with the strategic goal to improve the treatment of human cancers.

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Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology