Linda B. Baughn, Ph.D., has a broad research background in immunology and cancer biology with a focused interest in hematologic malignancies, specifically multiple myeloma (MM). In addition to her role as a co-director of the Clinical Genomics Laboratory and board-certified clinical laboratory cancer geneticist, she has been actively engaged in MM translational research since 2004.
MM is a devastating and incurable malignancy of plasma cells that currently has no cure. Although significant improvements in the treatment of patients with MM have resulted in increased survival, nearly all patients eventually become refractory to these treatments and succumb to the disease. Dr. Baughn's research and clinical interests are aimed in advancing the diagnosis and prognosis of all patients with MM.
- Improved clinical diagnostic approaches for multiple myeloma. Utilization of next-generation sequencing techniques, specifically mate-pair sequencing, in the characterization of genomic abnormalities such as structural and copy number abnormalities in patients with hematologic malignancies including MM.
- Understanding multiple myeloma drug resistance. Identification of novel biomarkers of drug sensitive and resistant MM cells using genetic models and multiparameter time of flight mass cytometry (CyTOF). CyTOF phenotypically characterizes MM cell lines and primary MM cells using numerous antibody combinations to identify rare subpopulations and appreciate clonal heterogeneity.
- Health disparity research. African Americans are two to three times more likely to develop MM. It is important to elucidate the genetic mechanisms of this racial disparity. Dr. Baughn and colleagues have utilized genotyping data from single nucleotide polymorphisms that are ancestrally informative to calculate individual ancestry as a novel approach rather than relying only on self-report ancestry to understand health disparities of MM.
Significance to patient care
Multiple myeloma remains an incurable plasma cell malignancy with about 30,000 new diagnoses and approximately 12,000 deaths annually in the U.S. In addition, MM has one of the most pronounced disparities in the incidence between African Americans and European Americans. Dr. Baughn's research efforts are aimed to understand this racial disparity and also identify novel ways that genomic abnormalities and biomarkers of drug resistance in MM can be identified.