Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer-associated deaths in women. There is a multitude of risk factors for breast cancer that women cannot change, such as a family history of breast cancer, getting older, genetic mutations and menstruation history. As such, researchers need to continue finding better ways to treat and prevent breast cancer.
I have a long-standing interest in genetics and genome stability, which is essential for protecting cells from transformation and eventual tumor development. This reason, combined with personal experiences of family members with cancer, led me to study the intersection of molecular genetics and cancer biology.
My research areas involve finding the molecular and cellular drivers of mammary gland development and breast cancer progression. For instance, my laboratory concentrates on the DEK oncogene and how it functions in DNA repair and transcription.
We look at how the DEK oncogene leads to hyperplasia and tumorigenesis. Our work, in collaboration with others, was the first to recognize DEK as a commonly over-expressed oncogenic driver of breast cancer.
The general goal of my team is to determine how problems in expressing the chromatin-binding DEK protein leads to cellular and molecular pathogenesis in human disease. Another goal we have in our lab is to streamline drug development in order to find new treatments to remedy solid tumors.
Other projects my team and I work on include:
- Determining the role of DEK protein in the differentiation of the myeloid lineage during hematopoiesis and possible involvement in acute myeloid leukemia
- Understanding how the loss of DEK expression in neurons may contribute to dementia
- Pre-clinical testing of possible new treatments for solid tumors including breast cancer
Throughout my career, I have garnered multiple recognitions, including:
- Advisory Board member, Miami University Department of Biological Sciences
- Cramer Research Award, Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan
- Excellence in Teaching Award for graduate students, University of Michigan
- James V. Neel Fellowship in Human Genetics, Honorable Mention, University of Michigan
- Multiple grants including funding from the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST), the Marlene Harris Ride Foundation, the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and many awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Outstanding Reviewer Award from “Experimental Biology and Medicine”
I have more than 15 years of experience in cancer research, and I first started working at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2008. My research has been published in numerous journals, including Schizophrenia Research, Cancer Research, Nature Communications and Translational Oncology. I am an active member in both the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Society for Experimental Biology.
In addition to my research program, I’m the Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at Cincinnati Children’s. For more information about postdoctoral research fellowship positions at Cincinnati Children’s, visit the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs webpage.
Breast cancer; gene expression; metastasis; cell cycle; DEK; oncogenes and tumor suppressors
Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
Oncology, Cancer and Blood Diseases