Seminar Series


September 14, 2017
Jeffrey K. Huang, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Georgetown University Medical Center

Dr.  Jeffrey Huang's research aims to understand the mechanisms of CNS glia-neuron interaction in development, homeostasis, and regeneration, with the goal to devise regenerative and neuroprotective therapies for brain pathologies that occur with aging, injury and disease. He focuses on the biology and pathology oligodendrocytes, which are glial cells that synthesize myelin membranes around CNS axons to enable rapid, saltatory conduction. Myelin destruction and oligodendrocyte loss such as in multiple sclerosis (MS) impairs axonal function and promotes axonal degeneration. He is investigating how oligodendrocyte-axon interactions influence axonal integrity and survival. Dr. Huang also investages how oligodendrocytes differentiate from progenitors under the inflammatory environment to regenerate myelin (remyelination) after demyelinating injury. He uses primary oligodendrocyte cultures, transgenic mice, and models of experimental CNS demyelination, combined with molecular biology and imaging tools to address these questions.

For more information on Dr. Huang's lab click here.


November 10, 2016
Michael M. Shen, PhD

Columbia University Medical Center
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Michael Shen's laboratory investigates the regulation of pattern formation and organogenesis during vertebrate development, and how these processes are disrupted in cancer initiation and progression. These studies primarily utilize experimental approaches involving genetically-engineered mice, but also employ cell culture and biochemical approaches to investigate molecular mechanisms. In the first major area of interest in our laboratory, our laboratory is investigating the biological functions of Nodal, a member of the Transforming Growth Factor-beta (TGFβ) family that is essential for multiple critical processes during formation of the vertebrate body plan, including anterior-posterior and left-right axis specification, as well as formation of the germ layers during gastrulation. In a second primary area of research, our laboratory is investigating the molecular mechanisms of tissue organogenesis and their relationship to tumor initiation and progression, through the generation and analysis of mouse models of prostate cancer.

For more information on Dr. Shen's lab click here.


December 6, 2017
Valerie Horsley, Phd

Associate professor, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Associate Professor of Dermatology
Yale University

Valerie Horsley began her scientific training as an undergraduate at Furman University and was awarded her Ph.D. from Emory University. After completing a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship in Elaine Fuchs’ laboratory at Rockefeller University, Valerie started her independent laboratory at Yale University in the Department of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology. Horsley’s lab uses the mouse as a genetic model system to study how adult stem cells within epithelial tissues maintain tissue homeostasis, can contribute to wound healing, and can be a factor in cancer formation. She is now the Maxine F. Singer Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale, has received a number of awards including the Pew Scholar Award, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award.

For more information on Dr. Horsley's lab click here.


January 18, 2018
Christopher Lengner, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
School of Veterinary medicine
University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Lengner's overarching goal for his research program is to gain an understanding of the molecular mechanisms that govern stem cell potency and how dysregulation of these mechanisms can contribute to disease onset and progression, including oncogenesis. His laboratory employs genetic, genomic, and single-cell analysis approaches in murine systems to address these fundamental questions, and, in parallel, utilizes human induced pluripotent cells and patient samples to translate findings into human systems. Using these approaches his lab has identified novel pathways underlying the somatic stem cell self-renewal and the ontogeny of hematopoietic and gastrointestinal cancers. These pathways are subsequently being assessed as potential points for therapeutic intervention in cancers and diseases of regenerative failure. They have also begun to unravel the hierarchical structure of the intestinal stem cell compartment with the ultimate goal of understanding how perturbations in this hierarchy contribute to disease states, including cancer, chronic inflammation, and regeneration in response to acute injuries such as ischemia or radiation damage.

For more information on Dr. Lengner click here.


February 15, 2018
Sunny Wong, PhD
Assistant Professor, department of dermatology
Assistant professor, department of cell and developmental biology
University of michigan medical school

Sunny Wong joined the University of Michigan in December 2011 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dermatology, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. He conducted his graduate research in the lab of Richard Hynes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his Ph.D. in 2007. Subsequently he trained with Jeremy Reiter as an American Cancer Society / A.P. Giannini postdoctoral fellow at the University of California San Francisco. His lab's general interests involve understanding how hair follicles develop and how basal cell carcinoma arises in the skin.  In terms of development, they are specifically focused on the biology of the hair follicle infundibulum, a poorly characterized domain that constitutes the hair follicle opening, or the pores visible on the surface of the skin.  They are interested in the cellular events that generate this opening, the genes that maintain its normal function, as well as events associated with hair canal disruption, which occurs in acne patients.  They are interested in studying the stem cells in the skin which give rise to basal cell carcinoma, as well as their interactions with neighboring stomal cells.  They are also currently investigating how these tumors regress in response to therapy, as well as how they potentially develop drug resistance.

For more information on Dr. Wong click here.


March 15, 2018
Kris Wood, phd
assistant professor of pharmacology and cancer biology
duke university school of medicine

Dr. Wood's lab is broadly interested in devising methods to better connect cancer patients with effective therapeutic strategies. Meeting this goal is challenging, as patient tumors are heterogeneous, genetically complex, and evolvable. Further, there are many potential drugs that can be assembled in many combinations. To address this challenge, they are developing functional genomic technologies that allow us to systematically map the genetic determinants of drug sensitivity and then connect these to effective therapeutic strategies. Additionally, they are developing analytical approaches rooted in pharmacology, bioinformatics, and statistical/mathematical modeling to study tumor evolution and design selective combination therapies. Beyond purely translational applications, their studies should advance our basic understanding of the architectures of biological signaling networks, and the experimental and computational genomic tools they develop may be useful for systematically studying a range of additional biological processes.

For more information on Dr. Wood's lab click here.


April 19, 2018
Peggy Myung, md, phd
assistant professor of dermatology and of pathology
yale university

Peggy Myung is interested in hair follicle development and regeneration. Currently, she studies hair follicle development in mice and has a focus on how the dermal niche regulates hair follicle cell fate decisions. In particular, her work is centered on understanding the epithelial-mesenchymal interactions that regulate epithelial growth and differentiation in an effort to re-purpose these same molecular mechanisms to suppress aberrant growth in carcinogenesis.

For more information on Dr. Myung click here.


May 17, 2018
Jonathan Pollack, md, phd
Professor of pathology
Stanford university school of medicine

The Pollack lab uses genomic approaches to investigate the pathobiology of human cancer, and to identify strategies for improved diagnosis, prognostication and treatment. Technologies include deep sequencing (exomes, genomes, transcriptomes, and cistromes), DNA microarrays, RNAi screens, genome editing, and single-cell analysis. Studies span several tumor types, including prostate, breast, lung, colon and pancreatic cancer. Rather than study model organisms, we work directly with human cancer specimens and patient-derived cells. Active areas of investigation include: (1) Defining prostate cancer subtypes, intratumor heterogeneity and genome evolution, to distinguish indolent from aggressive disease; (2) Discovering clinically-relevant gene-expression signatures and cancer biomarkers; (3) Identifying recurring genomic structural alterations in various cancer types, to discover novel cancer genes; (4) Understanding the role of altered chromatin remodeling and amplified "lineage-survival" transcription factors in tumorigenesis; (5) Investigating the mechanisms underlying genomic instability and the shaping of cancer genomes; (6) Applying genomic approaches to study uncommon neoplasias, as well as benign disease processes; (7) Generating patient-derived cell culture models by conditional reprogramming, to enable studies of specific cancer genotypes; (8) Exploring cell and tissue heterogeneity through single-cell genomics.

For more information on Dr. Pollack's lab click here.


Past Speakers: 

2016-2017 Series


September 29, 2016
Anton Wellstein

Deputy Director for The Center for Cell REprogramming

Professor Oncology, Pharmacology and Medicine
Georgetown university medical school

Dr.  Anton Wellstein has been newly appointed as the Deputy Director for the Center for Cell Reprogramming.  Dr. Wellstein has been involved with the Center since its inception and is the director of the GI biology program within the Center.  He is currently the co-PI on an R33 NCI grant focused on Conditional Cell Reprogramming, and many of his laboratory pursuits involve the biology of cancer stem cells.  His role is in helping guide the Center in defining future directions and collaborations, recruiting new faculty, and assisting with private and pubic foundation support.  We are excited to have Dr. Wellstein assume this important new position within the Center and be the first speaker of our second Seminar Series.




October 13, 2016
James H. Doroshow, MD

Deputy Director for Clinical and Translational Research

National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

Dr. James H. Doroshow has been the Director of Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, National Cancer Institute, since 2004, and Deputy Director for Clinical and Translational Research of the National Cancer Institute since 2011. He is the author of over 400 full-length publications in the areas of reactive oxygen metabolism and oxidant signaling, anticancer pharmacology, and novel therapeutic approaches to solid tumors. Dr. Doroshow also oversees his own active laboratory program focusing on two lines of research: discovering the mechanisms that drive the anthracycline antibiotic cell death program, and understanding the role of oxidative signals in the development and treatment of solid tumors. 





November 10, 2016
Judith Campisi, phd

professor, Buck Institute for research on aging
Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Dr. Judith Campisi has received international recognition for her contributions to understanding why age is the largest single risk factor for developing a panoply of diseases, ranging from neurodegeneration to cancer. Her highly acclaimed research integrates the genetic, environmental and evolutionary forces that result in aging and age-related diseases, and identifies pathways that can be modified to mitigate basic aging processes. Dr. Campisi also makes significant contributions to understanding why aging is the largest single risk factor for developing cancer. She is widely recognized for her work on senescent cells -- older cells that have stopped dividing -- and their influence on aging and cancer. Dr. Campisi is collaborating with many other research groups at the Buck Institute to examine other suspected influences of senescent cells on other diseases of aging. Her research is shedding light on anti-cancer genes, DNA repair mechanisms that promote longevity, molecular pathways that protect cells against stress, and stem cells and their role in aging and age-related disease.


December 8, 2016
Terry lechler

Associate professor
department of cell biology
duke university school of medicine

Terry Lechler received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. His graduate work was performed in Rong Li’s lab at Harvard Medical school, where he studied mechanisms underlying cortical actin assembly and cell polarity. For his postdoctoral studies, Dr. Lechler joined Elaine Fuchs’ lab at Rockefeller University. His work there led to the discovery that regulated spindle orientations and asymmetric cell divisions drive the stratification and differentiation of the epidermis. Additional work laid the groundwork to understand how the cytoskeleton reorganizes upon cell differentiation and the importance of this in tissue mechanics and function. In 2006, Dr. Lechler joined Duke University and established his lab. Since that time, the Lechler Lab has made contributions to understanding both the mechanisms and functions underlying asymmetric cell divisions, the role of actin nucleators in epithelial tissue physiology, and microtubule organization and function in the skin. The lab aims to understand how complex tissue architecture is established and the roles of the cytoskeleton and cell adhesions in tissue physiology/pathology.

March 15, 2017

Steven Artandi, MD, phd

Dr. Artandi is the Jerome and Daisy Low Gilbert Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine.  He earned an A.B in chemistry at Princeton University, and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University. Dr. Artandi completed his residency training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and his fellowship in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Artandi investigates fundamental questions in cancer biology and stem cell biology and how these processes are disrupted in human disease. Many diseases associated with tissue failure can be caused by germline mutations in telomerase genes and similar mechanisms may underlie many aspects of human aging. Dr. Artandi’s laboratory is using novel methods to discover new tissue stem cell populations with the goal of harnessing these cells to treat human disease. Dr. Artandi’s laboratory is also focused on understanding the earliest stages in cancer development with the goal or preventing and treating many of the deadliest human malignancies.  Dr. Artandi was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and a member of the Association of American Physicians. He received the Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute in 2015. 


April13, 2017
Danelle Devenport, PhD
assistant professor of molecular biology
department of molecular biology, Princeton Univeristy

Danelle Devenport's research focuses on how cells assemble into highly ordered structures to produce functional organs. Currently, she studies how directional signals instruct cells to organize cellular structures at specific positions and orientations across a tissue. This phenomenon, called planar polarity, can be found in nearly all epithelial tissues but is particularly striking in epidermal structures like scales, feathers, and hairs that are precisely and coordinately aligned over the entire surface of the vertebrate body. Using mammalian epidermis as a model system, she is dissecting the mechanisms of how cells 'sense' direction and coordinate cellular morphogenesis over long distances. In addition, she focuses on how highly regenerative tissues maintain their precise organization despite continuous proliferation and turnover. Danelle received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 2004 and was a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University until 2011. She holds an M.Sc. from the University of British Columbia and a B.S. from Humboldt State University in California.



May 18, 2017

Christopher Albanese, PhD
Professor, Departments of Oncology and Pathology
Georgetown University Medical Center 


Dr. Christopher Albanese is a Professor in the Departments of Oncology and Pathology. He is also a member of the Molecular Oncology program. Dr. Albanese is the founder and Director of the Preclinical Imaging Research Laboratory and is the cofounder and is the Director of the Urogenital Program in the Center for Cellular Reprogramming. Dr. Albanese's research focuses on the role of oncogenes and tumor suppressor proteins in the induction and maintenance of gentinourinary and other cancers, including malignancies of the GI track and brain. At Lombardi, Dr. Albanese is continuing programmatic development of novel preclincial models of human diseases, and the development of high-energy imaging technologies. Dr. Albanese also heads a multidisciplinary group of investigators whose initiative is to develop novel imaging-based clinical cancer therapies


2015-2016 Series


September 10, 2015
Xuefeng Liu, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Pathology, Director of Telomeres & Immortalization Program

Center for Cell Reprogramming, Georgetown University Medical Center

To begin our second year of the Seminar Series we welcome Dr. Xuefeng Liu, Director of the Telomeres and Cell Immortalization Program at the Center for Cell Reprogramming. Dr. Liu's research focuses on mechanisms of cell immortalization which is a very early stage of human cancer. In this seminar, he will discuss non-canonical functions of telomerase and role of cytoskeleton alterations in conditional reprogramming (CR) and immortalization.



October 8, 2015
Ettore Appella, MD

Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Cell Biology

National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research

Dr. Ettore Appella was among the first researchers to identify the tumor suppressor protein p53, and he has studied its roles in the cell and regulation by post-translational modification. He and his colleagues further identified a critical phosphatase that is upregulated by p53 following DNA damage. This phosphatase, Wip1 (PPM1D), is amplified or overexpressed in several human tumors. Dr. Appella’s research currently is focused on exploring the roles of Wip1 in cells and its contribution to tumorigenesis. They additionally are exploring how Wip1 is regulated. Finally, Dr. Appella’s laboratory is working to develop specific inhibitors of Wip1 that could be advanced to the clinic. Dr. Appella obtained his MD from the University of Rome, Italy, and continued his research at Johns Hopkins and the NIH (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) on dehydrogenases. Since 1965, he has been in the Laboratory of Cell Biology where he continues his research on tumor immunology, the p53 tumor suppressor protein, and the design of antiviral drugs against HIV.



November 20, 2015
December 2, 2015
Jesse Boehm, PhD

Associate Director, Cancer Program

Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

Dr. Jesse Boehm is the Assistant Director of the Broad’s Cancer Program and a Merkin Institute Research Fellow. In these roles, he both leads a research team and works closely with Cancer Program director Todd Golub on the scientific planning and strategic execution of program projects, collaborations and activities. Dr. Boehm’s lab focuses on developing powerful methods and tools to accelerate the translation of cancer genomics into cancer therapeutics. Active projects in the lab include developing pipelines for personalized testing of tumor vulnerabilities as part of the Cancer Cell Line Factory, assessing the tumorigenic potential of thousands of new cancer mutations as part of the Target Accelerator, and developing systematic experimental and computational approaches to validate biomarker-dependency relationships as part of Project Achilles.




January 14, 2016
Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD

D'Ambrogio Professor of Medicine

Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Calvin Kuo is the Vice Chair for Basic and Translational Research within the Department of Medicine as well as the D'Ambrogio Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He also co-leads the Cancer Biology Program at the Stanford Cancer Center.







February 11, 2016
Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD, PhD

Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD, PhD is recognized internationally for his groundbreaking research in experimental pathology and molecular oncology, holds the appointment of Chair for the Department of Pathology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Cordon-Cardo is a leader in the mechanisms of tumor suppression. His research has focused on the analyses of multidrug resistance and alteration of tumor suppression genes in human cancer. He developed and implemented an oncologic molecular pathology discipline and helped create the “systems pathology” platform. This approach uses systems biology to form mathematical models of the interaction and behavior of cancer cells with the goal of determining tumor pathogenesis and clinical outcome. 

March 16, 2016
Owen N. Witte, MD

Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics

Howard Hughes Medical Institute - UCLA

Owen Witte, MD, has made significant contributions to the understanding of human leukemias and epithelial cancer stem cells. His focus on stem cell research grew out of his long-term interest in understanding the cells in which cancers and leukemia originate. He hopes that research coming out of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center will change the understanding of many human diseases and that the discoveries will result in new treatments for lethal diseases. In addition to serving as director for the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Dr. Witte is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He currently holds the UCLA David Saxon Presidential Chair in Developmental Immunology. A professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, Dr. Witte joined the UCLA faculty in 1980. He graduated from Cornell University and earned his medical degree at Stanford. He did his postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Nobel laureate, David Baltimore. 




May 12, 2016
Sheng Ding, PhD

Professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

UCSF School of Pharmacy

Dr. Sheng Ding is stem cell scientist who uses novel small molecules to control and reprogram stem cell activities in various tissue types. Applying his groundbreaking techniques, he has previously succeeded in transforming skin cells into functional brain, heart, liver, and insulin-producing pancreas cells. He is currently William K. Bowes, Jr. Distinguished Investigator and Professor at Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, and Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California San Francisco. He obtained his B.S. in chemistry with honors from Caltech in 1999, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute in 2003. Dr. Ding has pioneered on developing and applying innovative chemical approaches to stem cell biology and regeneration, with a focus on discovering and characterizing novel small molecules that can control various cell fate/function, including stem cell maintenance, activation, differentiation and reprogramming in various developmental stages and tissues. Ding has published over 100 research articles, reviews and book chapters, and made several seminal contributions to the stem cell field. Ding is a cofounder of Fate Therapeutics and Stemgent.



2014-2015 Series


September 11, 2014
Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD
Director, Center for Cell Reprogramming
Georgetown University Medical Center

Dr. Richard Schlegel will be speaking at the first of the Seminar Series by introducing the Center and its components. He will be discussing the vision and mission of the Center as well as its future projects and goals. He will also be introducing the programs within the CCR and their respective Directors. We hope you will join us as we begin the first of our anticipated Seminars. To view his presentation, please click here.




October 9, 2014
Linda Resar, MD

The Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine

Dr. Resar is internationally recognized for pioneering studies on the role of High Mobility Group A (HMGA) genes in cancer and stem cells. Dr. Resar was the first to discover that HMGA genes function as potent oncogenes and a seminal paper describing this work was featured in Science magazine’s STRIKE publication (which cites papers of major significance). Her laboratory also engineered the first transgenic mouse model demonstrating that HMGA1 causes cancer in vivo. Using this model and others, Dr. Resar has gone on to elucidate molecular mechanisms through which HMGA genes function in human cancers and normal development. This work is important because HMGA proteins are key chromatin remodeling proteins and transcription factors enriched in all aggressive cancers and stem cells studied to date. Dr. Resar is committed to elucidating the pathways regulated by HMGA proteins in cancer and development in order to harness this knowledge for cancer therapy or regenerative medicine. Based on her productivity and innovative discoveries, Dr. Resar has garnered continuous NIH funding over the past 22 years.


November 13, 2014
Jeffrey Karp, PhD

Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Jeff Karp is an Associate Professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and is Principal Faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and affiliate faculty at MIT through the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. His research harnesses materials science and stem cell biology to solve medical problems with emphasis on nanoscale/microscale materials and bio-inspired approaches. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and has given over 140 national and international invited lectures and has 50 issued or pending patents. Several technologies that Dr. Karp has developed have formed the foundation for multiple products under development and for the launch of two companies, Gecko Biomedical and Skintifique. Dr. Karp's work has been recognized by CNN, NPR Science Fridays, Boston Globe, ABC News, MSNBC, Fox News, CBC Quirks and Quarks, CanadaAM, BBC, LA Times, Forbes, National Geographic, Popular Science, the Washington Post, the New York Post, and by Wired Magazine. In 2011 the Boston Business Journal recognized Dr. Karp as a Champion in Healthcare Innovation and in 2013 the Institute for Chemical Engineers(IChemE) awarded one of his technologies at the Most Innovative Product of the Year. MIT’s Technology Review Magazine (TR35) also recognized Dr. Karp as being one of the top innovators in the world under the age of 35. He has received the Society for Biomaterials Young Investigator Award and his work has been selected as one of Popular Mechanic's "Top 20 New Biotech Breakthroughs that Will Change Medicine”. Dr. Karp was also elected in 2013 to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering's College of Fellows and as a Kavli Fellow. Dr. Karp is also an acclaimed mentor. He was selected as the Outstanding Faculty Undergraduate Mentor among all Faculty at MIT and received the HST McMahon Mentoring award for being the top mentor among all faculty who mentor Harvard-MIT students. To date, 16 trainees from his laboratory have secured faculty positions at institutions throughout the world.

December 3, 2014*
Stuart S. Martin, PhD

University of Maryland School of Medicine

Dr. Stuart Martin is an Associate Professor of Physiology at the Greenbaum NCI Cancer Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Martin received his PhD from the University of California – San Diego in Biomedical Sciences, a program that combined molecular cell biology with pharmacology and physiology. As a graduate student with Dr. Jerry Olefsky, he focused on insulin-stimulated rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton, and demonstrated that PI3-Kinase was sufficient to induce actin membrane ruffling and stress fiber breakdown. His current research focuses on apoptosis and breast tumor metastasis, functional genomic screening for metastatic regulators, and in vivo tumor imaging.

*This special lecture will be held on a Wednesday.



January 9, 2015*
Visiting Scientist Grand Rounds Lecture
Jeff Engelman, MD, PhD 

Dana-Farber, Harvard Cancer Center

The overarching aim of research in the Engelman Laboratory is to develop new and more effective therapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer, with a particular emphasis on lung cancer. Cancer therapies are changing from general chemotherapeutic agents to drugs that target specific proteins and signaling pathways (i.e., targeted therapies). Engelman laboratory aims to understand the biological underpinnings of cancer sensitivity and resistance to this emerging class of therapies. Dr. Engelman is particularly interested in the regulation of the PI3K pathway, a signaling network that is crucial for the growth and survival of many epithelial cancers. The ultimate goal of his research is to develop therapies that are more effective and less toxic for patients with cancer. 

*This special lecture will be held on a Friday in the New Research Building Auditorium from 12:00pm - 1:00pm.

February 12, 2015
Yang Du, PhD

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Growing evidence in the leukemia field supports the cancer stem cell model that leukemia is comprised of a heterogeneous population and only a fraction of the leukemic cells, known as leukemic stem cells (LSCs), are capable of sustaining and regenerating the disease. These immortalized LSCs possess unlimited self-renewal capability and can also differentiate spontaneously into more mature non-leukemic progenies that make up the bulk of the malignancy. LSCs can be derived from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that normally have extensive self-renewal capability or from more mature progenitors that acquire such self-renewal potential through mutations. The clinical implication of this model is that LSCs have to be eliminated in order to eradicate leukemias. Since the hallmark of LSCs is their unlimited self-renewal capability, inhibition of LSC self-renewal represents a promising new strategy for treating leukemias. However, the molecular mechanism(s) controlling LSC self-renewal is poorly understood. Dr. Du and his lab have recently identified a set of candidate genes for regulating LSC self-renewal in myeloid leukemias in a retroviral insertional mutagenesis screen. Ectopic expression of these genes is able to confer unlimited self-renewal capability to murine myeloid progenitor cells in culture. One major focus in his lab is to confirm these genes as LSC self-renewal regulators by testing effects of their expression on the self-renewal potential and the transformation of normal murine myeloid progenitors in vivo. In order to understand the mechanisms that they regulate LSC self-renewal, expression profiling will be used to identify their downstream targets. Since extensive self-renewal capability is shared between LSCs and normal HSCs, genes identified in their screen may also play important roles in the self-renewal of normal HSCs. Therefore, Dr. Du and his lab are also taking a genetic approach to investigate this possibility by generating hematopoietic specific knockout mouse models for these candidates. Because their insertional mutagenesis screen makes use of retroviral vectors capable of infecting many different cell types, another area of resarch in the lab is to apply the same screening strategy outside of hematopoietic system to identify self-renewal regulators for other cancer stem cell types.

March 12, 2015
Frank B. Gertler, PhD

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Dr. Gertler is a Professor of Biology at MIT. He received his Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has been presented with the following honors: the American Society for Cell Biology’s Early Career Life Scientist Award (2003), The W.M. Keck Foundation's Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research award (2000), and The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience’s McKnight Scholar Award (2000). Precise control of cell motility is essential for embryonic development and a wide variety of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Developmental defects, metastatic cancer and other diseases can result when regulation of cell movement is perturbed. He is interested in understanding how cell movement and changes in cell shape are controlled. Directed cell migration requires dynamic remodeling of the cytoskeleton in response to diverse arrays of diffusible and surface-bound extracellular signals. Dr. Gertler and his lab would like to understand how cells transduce environmental signals into the mechanical forces necessary to drive directed movement. His research program combines mouse genetics, cell biological and biochemical approaches to investigate the interplay between signal transduction pathways and the actin cytoskeleton, and to deduce the functional importance of these regulatory systems in organismal development and disease etiology. One focus of the lab involves the study of cell motility and the control of cellular protrusions. A related second focus involves studying migration of neurons and their growth cones, actin-rich structures that guide developing axons and dendrites to their targets. He utilizes fluorescence and time-lapse video microscopy of living cells and high-resolution electron microscopy to analyze and quantify these processes.

April 9, 2015
Charlotte Kuperwasser, PhD

Tufts University School of Medicine

Dr. Kuperwasser's lab is focused on understanding the various aspects of normal and carcinogenic breast development, with the emphasis on stromal-epithelial interactions involved during progression and metastasis. Her research studies the pathogenesis of this disease from the early stages of promotion to the later stages of invasion and metastasis.




May 14, 2015
Rosalie Sears, PhD

Oregon Health & Science University

Dr. Rosalie Sears is a Full Professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics at the Oregon Health and Science University. She received her Bachelors degree in Biology from Reed College in 1986 and her PhD in Cell Biology from Vanderbilt University in 2003. Dr. Sears conducted her post doctoral studies at Duke University in the Genetics Department. She is the Translational Science Director of the Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care, and the GI Program Leader in the Knight Cancer Institute. The Sears lab is studying signaling pathways involved in the generation of human cancer. Disruption of these pathways alter the ability of a cell to control its proliferation as well as the initiation of programmed cell death (apoptosis). They are focusing on three key signaling pathways that regulate both cellular proliferation and apoptosis: the Myc transcription factor, the Ras signaling protein, and the G1 cyclin dependent kinase (Cdk)/retinoblastoma(Rb)/E2F pathway.