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2021 Sontag Award Recipient

"My lab's research focuses on understanding how brain cancers can be driven by changes in epigenetics, the molecular processes which help cells read and interpret the information stored in their DNA. By identifying brain tumor-associated epigenetic changes, we hope to uncover new therapeutic vulnerabilities in brain cancer. Support from the Sontag Foundation will be invaluable in driving our studies forward, and I am incredibly honored to be a recipient of this prestigious award."

About DSA-Funded Research

If the genome is a cell's textbook, containing all of the instructions that any cell in the body needs to fulfill its function, then its epigenome is the post-it notes, highlighter marks, and folded pages that each cell makes to its own copy of the genome to help it understand which parts are important for its biological function. Epigenetic processes shape a cell's DNA, modifying its physical shape and structure in order to guide the expression of the genes contained within. Changes to the epigenome are ubiquitous in brain cancer, yet much remains to be discovered about how these changes guide brain tumor biology. My previous work, performed in collaboration with several other DSA awardees, demonstrated how epigenetic dysfunction could mediate the effects of a genetic mutation in the metabolic enzyme IDH1, leading to activation of a well-known glioma oncogene called PDGFRA. My studies under the DSA seek to further expand this paradigm to other poorly understood mutations that are known to drive brain tumors, and to develop new technologies to further examine the role of the epigenome in how brain tumors respond in the clinic. Understanding these processes may help guide the development of new treatments or help us mobilize existing treatments in new ways.

Current Appointment(s)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular, Cell, and Cancer Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Case Western Reserve University, B.S.E., Biomedical and Tissue Engineering
  • Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, Ph.D., Molecular Medicine
  • Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Postdoc, Stem Cell Biology/Glioblastoma
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Postdoc, Pathology/Cancer Epigenetics