Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Sabrina L. Spencer, PhD

An important area of basic oncology research focuses on mutations that drive resistance to cancer drugs. While the contribution of mutations to cancer drug resistance is undeniable, how cells adapt to drugs on short time scales, long before genetic mutations arise, is very poorly understood.  Dr. Spencer will use multi-day time-lapse microscopy to study how individual cancer cells adapt to drugs targeting cell proliferation during the first few days of treatment.  She will identify the molecular events that allow individual rogue cells to escape from drug action. These early drug "escapees" could represent a seed population enabling development of permanent (genetic) drug resistance and, if understood, could be therapeutically eliminated to reduce tumor relapse. Dr. Spencer is co-funded with the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research.

Project title: "Causes and consequences of rapid cancer cell adaptation to MAPK pathway inhibitors"
Institution: University of Colorado Boulder
Award Program: Innovator
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Proliferation/Cell Cycle