Brain Cancer Research Lab
Our laboratory’s main focus is to understand the mechanisms that regulate self-renewal, transformation, and therapy resistance in brain cancer stem cells from glioblastoma and medulloblastoma. We are interested in the roles of developmental signaling pathways ( Notch, SHH, Wnt, and the Hippo pathways) and novel regulators of glioma stem cells we identified. To identify cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic factors that control stem cell proliferation, survival and differentiation, we develop and utilize genetically engineered mouse models, patient derived xenograft (PDX) models, primary tumorsphere cultures, and organotypic tumor slices. We have ongoing projects elucidating the role of cell-of- origin in generating epigenetic/genetic heterogeneity of cancer stem cells and consequent therapy resistance mechanisms. We are studying the differential vulnerability of different cell types to specific oncogenic insult in vivo and analyzing different epigenetic states of different cell types in vivo. In addition, to faciliate translation of our findings, we are developing a new experimental and drug screening platform that retains cell:cell interactions and tumor microenvironement to better understand disease processes and to discover new therapies. Finally, we are developing new small molecule inhibitors and therapeutic antibodies against brain cancer stem cell regulators.