Dee Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Office: A130 Harper Hall
Cancer has been traditionally typified by a stepwise accumulation of mutations in key oncogenes and tumor suppressors. However, it is increasingly clear that the evolutionary selection of the “fit clones” is a system-wide process that occurs in a dynamic tissue milieu termed the tumor microenvironment (TME). Exploring the co-evolution between tumor cells and tumor microenvironment is a central theme of my laboratory. We aim to tackle the overarching challenge of studying early tumor/metastasis development in situ and gain unprecedented mechanistic insights of the role of the tumor microenvironment, particularity various seemingly normal somatic stem cells, during cancer progression in its native pathophysiological microenvironment.
Using innovative approaches, such as whole tissue imaging and single cell sequencing, we investigate the dynamic interaction between a tumor and its tumor microenvironment at the single cell level within their tissue context. There are two specific research themes focusing on somatic stem cells in my laboratory:
- What are the tumor-promoting changes imposed by the tumor to the surrounding seemingly normal somatic stem cells, e.g. mammary gland stem cell?
- How does instigated somatic stem cells reciprocally influence tumor progression and metastatic colonization? Can we exploit those changes as novel therapies?
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