Our research focus is on liver epithelial cell biology, with an emphasis on the role and regulation of non-coding RNA genes in the pathogenesis of liver and biliary tract cancers.
A current area of emphasis is the study of cellular and molecular mechanisms by which dysregulation of cell survival signaling pathways contributes to disease pathogenesis in hepatobiliary cancers.
An overall goal of the laboratory is to understand and to exploit the knowledge of these mechanisms to develop effective therapies for these cancers.
The laboratory focuses on the fundamental mechanisms resulting in modulation of expression of genes involved in tumor behavior, and in particular the role of non-coding RNA in these processes.
Areas of ongoing research include the study of the role of specific non-coding RNA in the pathogenesis and behavior of liver and biliary tract cancers, and to the relationship of these RNA genes to cell signaling processes involved in tumor cell behavior. Our group has recently identified and cloned novel long non-coding RNA genes involved in liver cancers; and was the first to identify a role for microRNAs in chemotherapeutic responses. We currently are evaluating how these discoveries may be used to improve treatments for these cancers.
Inflammation and cancer
The laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms by which chronic inflammation promotes carcinogenesis of the biliary tract.
An NIH-funded project studies the cellular processes by which inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin-6 can foster tumor formation and growth in the liver by altering gene expression or modulating cell responses that enable malignant transformation.
The group has made several important observations of cytokine dependent signaling mechanisms and gene expression involved in tumorigenesis. Ongoing efforts are focused on evaluation of therapeutic strategies based on targeting these mechanisms.