Department: Chemical and Physical Biology
Faculty Mentor: Vito Quaranta, Ph.D.
Dissertation Description: Non-Genetic Mechanisms of Tumor Recurrence
In the Quaranta laboratory, we study the non-genetic mechanisms of tumor recurrence in response to targeted therapies. Although tumor recurrence is usually only associated with genetic mutations, we hypothesize that pre-existing cancer heterogeneity confers initial resistance to targeted therapies. If we consider a tumor as a heterogeneous population of cells that die, proliferate, and stagnate in the presence of drug, tumor recurrence could result from passive selection of more fit clonal cell populations. The goals of my project are to understand the underlying molecular mechanism that drives tumor recurrence in BRAF-mutant melanoma, and find drug treatments that effectively eliminate or reduce transition drug-resistant states.