Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Catherine Triandafillou, PhD

One of the tools cancer cells employ to evade immune system detection is an increased DNA mutation rate, with some cancers mutating 100-1000 times faster than healthy tissue. Classic studies of the effects of mutations predict that most genetic changes are deleterious, yet high mutation rates appear to help cancer cells adapt and invade. Dr. Triandafillou [National Mah Jongg League Fellow] will address this paradox by using a single-cell model of cancer to measure the effects of mutations with much greater accuracy and resolution than is possible in live cancer cells. This information will help us understand how cancer cells balance deleterious mutations with the ability to adapt, and how the effects of mutations interact. She will also perform laboratory evolution experiments to track the adaptive process in different environmental conditions, mimicking the process by which cancer cells are able to colonize new micro-environments within tumors and throughout the body. This work will provide a clearer picture of how cancer cells use new mutations to proliferate. Dr. Triandafillou received her PhD from the University of Chicago and her BS from Temple University.

Project title: "Intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of heterogeneous drug resistance in cancer"
Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Named Award: National Mah Jongg League Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Arjun Raj, PhD
Cancer Type: Colorectal, Skin, All Cancers
Research Area: Evolution