Research Interests

My research has focused on two primary areas of investigation: (1) studies of the processes in the initiation and progression of breast cancer and (2) studies of how cellular receptors regulate the intracellular cytoskeleton. In the first area of research, my laboratory has developed a three-dimensional basement membrane model in which mammary epithelial cells can organize in vivo into structures resembling breast glands. Through this model, we are investigating the mechanisms that regulate normal morphogenesis and how oncogenes and genes associated with breast cancer perturb these processes, leading to events that resemble in vivo initiation and progression of tumors. In the second area of research, we are focused on a family of cellular proteins, called Vav proteins, that are critical in linking cell surface receptors to the actin cytoskeleton through small GTP binding proteins in the RhoGTPase family. Through studies of mice lacking different members of the Vav family, we have found that Vav proteins are critically involved in our defense against microorganisms. We are also investigating how Vav proteins couple receptors for chemotaxis-inducing factors with the cytoskeleton, as well as defining how Vavs function in coordinating the events involved in regulation of cell adhesion and migration.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology