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Verra Ngwa

Department: Cancer Biology

Faculty Mentor: Jin Chen, Ph.D.

Dissertation DescriptionIdentification of Targets to Inhibit Cancer Metabolism

HER2-positive is overexpressed in 15-20% of invasive breast cancers correlating to poor prognosis. HER2+ is considered an orphan receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) with no known ligand, and evidence suggests that HER2 overexpression leads to heterodimerization and cross-activation of other RTKs. Even though small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies such as Trastuzumab are initially effective in treating HER2-positive patients, long-term response rates are limited due to acquired resistance and relapse. The identification of new molecular targets is needed to improve long-term survival of HER2-positive patients. One goal of the Chen lab is looking at cancer metabolism and tumor immunity. The focus of my research is the identification of targets to inhibit cancer metabolism through signaling which will eventually reverse tumor growth and immunosuppression.