"Funding from The Sontag Foundation will allow us to explore the role that Pten and Coronin 1C play in astrocytic tumor cell motility and invasive capacity. A deeper molecular understanding of these processes will allow effective evaluation of new and existing therapies, as well as identifying new targets for the treatment of brain tumors."

- Dr. James E. Bear

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Member, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

About DSA-Funded Research

In the US, approximately 17,500 new primary brain tumors are diagnosed in adults each year, an incidence greater than that of Hodgkin's disease and only slightly less than that of ovarian cancer. In children, primary brain tumors are second in number only to leukemia as causes of tumor mortality. Astrocytomas, the most common type of primary human brain tumor, comprise a heterogeneous group of tumors that range from benign tumors to highly malignant glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). These tumors are typically diffuse and invade surrounding tissue. These tumors cannot be "cured" by surgical excision and are poorly responsive to radiation and chemotherapies. To develop more effective treatments for this disease, it is critical to understand the underlying molecular basis for the proliferation and spread of the tumors. Genetically engineered mice have been invaluable tools for studying brain tumors. While the mechanisms of tumor proliferation have been thoroughly studied, the mechanisms that underlie tumor spread are less clear. In this proposal, we will take advantage of genetically engineered mice to study the role of two genes in the spread of tumor cells. One of these genes, Pten, is a known tumor suppressor gene mutated in astrocytomas, while the second gene, Coronin 1C, is a motility gene that is upregulated upon Pten deletion. We will use high resolution live-cell microscopy to quantify the effects of Pten or Coronin 1C loss on primary astrocyte motility and invasion.

Accolades

"Jim has an impressive breadth of knowledge from a wide variety of disciplines and he is adept at adapting ideas from one area to his own research. [He] combines genetics, cell biology and biochemistry in [his] research program. This ability to approach problems from a variety of approaches is not widespread."

Frank B. Gertler, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Jim is an exemplar of a new breed of cell biologists who are devising new cellular and molecular biological methods to study fundamental processes. An innovator at a young age, Dr. Bear is an impressive scientist."

H. Shelton Earp III, M.D.
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

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