This lab’s main interests are primarily in molecular and cell biology that underlies tumor growth, tumor progression and response to cancer therapy. We have been focused on two cancer types, namely, breast cancer and glioblastoma, the most common and deadliest brain malignancy in adults. More recently, we are exploring prostate cancer biology and experimental therapeutics.

Investigating Signaling Pathways

Aberrant cell signaling is a major hallmark of almost all types of cancer. Thus, the majority of targeted therapies have been directed against tyrosine and Ser/Thr kinases that mediate cancer cell signaling pathways.

In this regard, our laboratory has been investigating several of these pathways, including those mediated by EGFR and HER2, as well as, the effectors downstream of both kinases, such as STAT3 and Akt.

Our work has led to the discovery of several novel signaling axes within the EGFR/HER2 pathways and their contributions to tumor cell growth, patient prognosis and resistance to anti-cancer therapy.

Understanding the Sonic Hedgehog Pathway

Another major direction of my laboratory is to investigate a novel transcription factor within the sonic hedgehog pathway.

We discovered the existence of truncated glioma-associated oncogene homolog (tGLI1) in 2009 and the evidence to date indicates that tGLI1 behaves as a gain-of-function GLI1 transcription factor that plays an important role in promoting tumor progression and angiogenesis.

Our results also suggest that tGLI1 may be expressed in a tumor-specific fashion. Building on these observations, ongoing projects in my laboratory aim at gaining a deeper understanding of tGLI1 functionality in human cancers and also the molecular events leading to tGLI1 synthesis in tumor cells.