My general area of interest relates to how cancer develops and how to identify cancer therapeutic agents. In particular I hope to identify molecular signals that underlie the changes necessary for directing normal tissue to a malignant state in cancer. Therefore, I have been studying how extracellular signals are deciphered by seven trans-membrane receptors and their regulatory proteins to control cell proliferation and differentiation. My major research focuses on studying GPCR, Smoothened, TGF-beta and Frizzled receptor trafficking and signaling as well as their roles in tumor biology. Abnormalities in the receptors or other proteins they interact with either directly or indirectly result in malignancies. Moreover, as a result of our research, we have established a state-of-the-art high throughput, high content screening platform in my laboratory to identify novel small molecules that modulate the activity of these receptors. We have found many new small molecules that block Hedgehog pathway. These chemical compounds may have the potential to become new therapeutic agents to treat many refractory cancers of the pancreas, liver, breast, prostate, and skin.
Education and Training
- Ph.D., University of Toledo, 1999
- Translational Research in Surgical Oncology
- Inhibition of Wnt/B-Catenin Signaling in Colorectal Cancer Therapy
- Targeting the WNT/beta-catenin Pathway in Triple Negative Breast Cancer
- Developing a HER3 Vaccine to Prevent Resistance to Endocrine Therapy
- Duke Training Grant in Digestive Diseases and Nutrition