Surgery-Prelim, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, N.Y.
The Role of Ets1 in the Pathogenesis of Epithelial Cancers
My current work involves the molecular characterization of the network governed by Ets1, an oncogenic transcription factor, in specific subtypes of epithelial cancers that show enriched expression of stem cell and epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers. Several studies have shown that tumor cells undergoing EMT exhibit Cancer Stem Cell (CSC) and tumor initiating properties and importantly, tumors that show enriched expression of EMT/CSC markers are chemoresistant to standard therapy. Hence, it is important to investigate the molecular mechanisms by which specific drivers of CSC and EMT, such as transcription factors, govern tumor formation, progression, dissemination and ultimately treatment. I am using an integrative approach involving biochemical experiments, bioinformatics analysis and genetic studies to elucidate the gene-regulatory network governed by Ets1 in the stem/EMT enriched tumors and tumor initiating cells of both Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Breast Cancer. We hope to leverage the findings of these studies to discover new therapeutic targets and biomarkers for these epithelial cancers.