Lindsay M. LaFave, PhD

Dr. LaFave is studying how mutations in the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex affect the initiation and progression of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Mutations in several SWI/SNF components have been identified in a variety of solid tumors; however, it remains unclear how their disruption contributes to tumor progression. She aims to develop novel NSCLC cell line and murine models to study the impact of SWI/SNF alterations.

Jose M. Ordovas-Montanes, PhD

Dr. Ordovas-Montanes studies how inflammation in the gut influences individual epithelial and immune cells. Inflammation is one of the largest risk factors for developing colon cancer. A better understanding of the cellular factors involved in precipitating malignancy may lead to novel approaches for blocking the initiation of cancer and restoring the gut to a healthy balanced state.

Peter M. K. Westcott, PhD

Dr. Westcott is developing improved in vivo models for studying the complex interactions between colorectal cancer and the immune system. The powerful genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 will be leveraged to rapidly generate a suite of novel mouse models of colorectal cancer harboring distinct mutational signatures seen in human cancer. He will use genome-wide sequencing and preclinical studies to dissect the role of these mutational signatures in promoting cancer cell detection by the immune system, and in modulating response to immunotherapies.

Chenxi Tian, PhD

Dr. Tian studies pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). PDAC is characterized by an extremely stiff texture, which is caused by accumulation of excessive extracellular matrix (ECM). The compositions of ECM, known to have major effects on tumor progression, are not well understood in PDAC disease. She aims to identify global ECM changes during PDAC progression by proteomic approaches, and to investigate how these changes impact cancer progression. The uncovered ECM of PDAC will provide novel insights into diagnosis, prognosis and treatments of this very difficult disease.

Allison N. Lau, PhD

Dr. Lau [Robert Black Fellow] aims to characterize the unique metabolism of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cancer cells. In general, it is known that cancer cells have altered metabolism compared to non-cancerous cells; however, it is unknown how different cell types within a tumor utilize nutrients and how this may contribute to tumor progression and metastasis. This research will provide insight into the metabolic dependencies of different cells found within the pancreatic tumor environment and may potentially be useful for developing novel therapies.

Bradley L. Pentelute, PhD

Antibodies have proven to be powerful tools in cancer research, facilitating the elucidation of disease mechanisms and generating novel and effective anti-cancer therapeutics. However, antibody biotechnology is limited by one major factor: the inability of antibodies to effectively cross the cell membrane to reach the inside of the cell, or cytosol. A new strategy is clearly necessary-one based on facile and reliable delivery of active antibody-like molecules into various cell types.