Gina (Bernardo) Sizemore, PhD
Mentor: Michael Ostrowski, PhD
Project: Evaluating fibroblast-specifc PDGFR-alpha in the promotion of mammary tumorigenesis
Project Summary: Investigating the function of platelet-derived growth factor receptor-alpha (PDGFR-alpha) in cells found within and around breast tumors. These cells, termed fibroblasts, actively participate in cancer progression, and so we are testing weather pharmacological inhibition of PDGFR-alpha, either alone or in combination with drugs targeting the cancer cells themselves, may serve as a novel therapeutic strategy for treating women with breast cancer.
Timothy Chlon, PhD
Mentor: Susanne Wells, PhD, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics
Project: Exploring the Role of the Fanconi Anemia Pathway in Somatic Cell Reprogramming through Human Papillomavirus Oncogenes
Project Summary: Fanconi anemia is a genetic disease that causes dramatically increased cancer risk. These patients are commonly affected by head and neck squamos cell cancers (HNSCC), a tumor type that is associated with Human papillomaviruses (HPV). We plan to study the collaboration between Fanconi anemia and HPV in stem cell biology to determine how HPV promotes stem cell-like properties in Fanconi anemia patient cells.
Roberta Galli, PhD
Mentor: Carlo Croce, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics
Project: Control of Microvesicles Secretion: A New Approach in Cancer Treatment
Project Summary: Microvesicles (MVs) are small particles released from cancer cells that are fundamental for several tumor-specific functions. I will test a new drug named GW4869 that is able to block MVs release; this new drug by blocking MVs release also will be able to impair tumor growth and its spreading. The new big potential of this drug is the possibility to block at the same time different cancer cells functions. I believe that GW4869 would be a new powerful antitumor weapon.
Sigurdis Haraldsdottir, MD
Mentor: Richard Goldberg, MD
Project: Incidence of Lynch Syndrome and the microsatellite instablilty pathway in colorectal cancer patients in Iceland
Project Summary: Investigate the incidence of Lynch syndrome, an inherited syndrome which increases the risk of several cancers including colorectal cancer, in the population of Iceland. Investigating this in an entire nation will increase our understanding of this syndrome.
Tiffany Hughes, PhD
Mentor: Don Benson, MD, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: The role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation in multiple myeloma
Project Summary: Little is known regarding how it is that people develop multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, but it may be that environmental exposures contribute to this phenomenon. In our project, we will systematically examine the effects of some environmental substances that may lead to multiple myeloma; interestingly, these compounds may simultaneously promote multiple myeloma and impair the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. This knowledge may prove crucial for understanding where multiple myeloma comes from and offer new insight into its treatment and prevention.
Zeenia Kaul, PhD
Mentor: Joanna Groden, PhD
Project: Tumor-specific plasticity in mechanisms of telomere maintenance
Project Summary: Evaluate whether cells in a tumor are mixture of telomere length maintenance mechanisms and if blocking one of the mechanisms can promote alternative pathways for tumor survival. This information will be used to better classify and design combination therapies to target tumors.
Nikola Kovinich, PhD
Mentor: Erich Grotewold, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Molecular Genetics
Project: New Frontiers in the Chemical Arsenal Against Cancer: Combining Modules of Semi-Synthesis and Synthetic Biology
Project Summary: Learn whether combinations of test tube chemistry, genetically modified microbes and plants, can be used to modify the structure of anticancer drugs, to render the drugs more effective against cancer. This study may help us better understand the relationship between chemical structure and drug resistance, the leading cause of failure of chemotherapy.
Joseph Markowitz, MD, PhD
Mentor: William Carson, MD
Project: Inhibiting immune suppressor cells in pancreatic cancer
Project Summary: Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease that is not curable when it has reached an advanced stage. We plan to study new strategies to overcome the inhibitory effects of cells called myeloid derived suppressor cells and enhance the patient immune response to pancreatic cancer.
Antonio Perez-Castro, PhD
Mentor: Michael Ostrowski, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Project: The control of PTEN protein stability and its role in endometrial cancer
Project Summary: Understand how the cancer related protein PTEN is regulated at the protein level. This knowledge will be used to find new genes associated with onset, progression and prognosis of endometrial cancer, and move us toward a better diagnostic and treatment of this disease within the framework of personalized medicine.
Vasudha Shukla, PhD
Mentor: Samir Ghadiali, PhD and Patrick Nana-Sinkam, MD
Project: Influence of biomechanical forces in the lung on EGFR signaling and response to therapy
Project Summary: The goal of this project is to investigate how complex mechanical forces in the lung influence growth factor (i.e. EGFR) signaling and therapeutic efficiency. We will use engineering and nanotechnology tools to create a “lung-on-a-chip” device that exposes lung tumors to complex mechanical forces. This device will be used to investigate how mechanical forces alter 1) tumor growth/metastasis, 2) EGFR signaling and 3) the effectiveness of EGFR targeted drugs.
Lawrence Shirley MD
Mentor: Mark Bloomston, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Surgery
Project: Targeting Warburg Effect to Overcome Gemcitabine Resistance in Pancreatic Cancer
Project Summary: Work to understand how an anti tumor agent, CG-30, is able to overcome the inherent resistance of pancreatic cancer to gemcitabine.
Jared Talbot, PhD
Mentor: Sharon Amacher, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Molecular Genetics
Project: Zebrafish models of SIX1-mediated muscle metastasis
Project Summary: This research uses zebrafish skeletal muscles to learn how a cancer-promoting gene called SIX1 is activated, and why its activation leads to cancer. This work may help us to design treatments that slow or halt cancer.
Nissar Wani, PhD
Mentor: Ramesh Ganju, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Pathology
Project: Role of S100A7/RAGE in breast cancer metastasis to bone
Project Summary: Determine how breast cancer cells modulate bone cells that result in enhanced metastasis to bone. The information obtained from these studies could be used for developing new treatments to block breast cancer metastasis to bone, which currently lacks treatment options.