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    PhD/MSTP Students

    • 5225
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    1995 …2023

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    Research interests

    We use well annotated clinical databases paired with prospectively collected patient tumor banks and state of the art sequencing technologies to perform high quality translational research in gynecologic cancers. At Washington University we maintain one the largest tumor repositories for cervical cancer, which includes well annotated specimens collected before and during chemoradiation treatment. We are currently using this repository to test the influence of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) genotype and gene expression on cervical cancer outcomes, characterize the biology of HPV negative cervical tumors, and identify novel mutations associated with local recurrence and distant metastasis after treatment. We take these observations, derived directly from patient data, to the bench to conceptualize, optimize and test novel drug and radiotherapy combinations, which are then moved forward in the context of investigator-initiated clinical trials.

    The majority of the work done to date in the lab has focused on tumor metabolism, specifically increased rates of glucose uptake and glycolysis and the association between this metabolic phenotype and resistance to cancer treatment. We have had a long standing interest in the association between tumor glucose metabolism and radiation therapy resistance. This work has included clinical studies with 18F-fluoro-deoxy-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) scans as well as preclinical studies performed in cancer cell lines and mouse tumor models, including patient derived xenografts and genetically engineered mouse models. We have used this approach to develop metabolic strategies that increase tumor oxidative stress and can be used to increase radiation sensitivity in treatment-resistant tumors. More recently, we have been developing new strategies that target tumor dependence on alternative carbon sources including glutamine and free fatty acids.

    Our work has now expanded to include the role of tumor immunology and the microenvironment in mediating cancer therapy resistance. This work includes active research collaborations with other laboratories studying additional tumor types (such as sarcoma and pancreatic cancer). Using 2D and 3D co-culture systems, we are studying how tumor cells and immune cells in microenvironment share (and compete for) nutrients and how this process impacts anti-tumor immunity.

    Current projects include:

    1. Using single cell sequencing approaches to study treatment effects on tumor cells and immune and other cells within the tumor microenvironment
    2. Glucose and glutamine metabolism as targets for cancer therapy
    3. Treatment related changes in tumor fat metabolism
    4. Targeting myeloid derived cells as a mechanism to improve anti-tumor immunity 

    Clinical interests

    Gynecologic oncology, thyroid oncology, radiation oncology.

    Mentoring

    As a mentor, I am deeply committed to the personal and professional development of all trainees.  I have a strong track record of mentorship of trainees at all levels including undergraduates, graduate students, medical students, MSTP students, residents, fellows and post doctoral researchers.  My priorities as a mentor are to work with each trainee to identify career goals, develop and execute a plan to build towards those goals then advise during post training interviews and negotiations. My lab's research environment is highly collaborative, active and supportive. We are committed to improving diversity, equity, inclusion and accountability in the research sciences. We do this by supporting trainees of all backgrounds, actively promoting their career choices and advancement (even after they graduate from the lab!) and by studying the biology of cancers that affect underserved populations. Keys to success thus far for trainees in my lab have been performing the very highest quality science with enthusiasm and mastering scientific communication including written and oral communication.  The primary key, however, is finding passion and joy in what you do everyday! As a mother of two, married to another scientist (Brian Edelson - check out his dbbs page!) we believe in and actively cultivate work life balance. 

    Available to Mentor:

    • PhD/MSTP Students

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