University of Pennsylvania, BA, Philosophy, 1984
Post-doctoral Fellowship, Louis F. Reichardt’s laboratory, HHMI, UCSF, 1998
Residency in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology, UCLA, 1996
Cornell University Medical College, MD, 1991
Our research bridges cancer genetics and metabolism to understand the genotype-environment interactions that drive cancer development, progression and drug resistance. We aim to use this knowledge to develop more effective treatments for cancer patients. To achieve these goals, we study the biochemical mechanisms that drive oncogene amplification and function in experimental models and in tissues from cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials.
Oncogene amplification is a major driver of cancer pathogenesis, but its underlying biology is incompletely understood. We found, contrary to current dogma, that oncogene amplification is widespread across cancer types, potently driving intratumoral genetic heterogeneity, and rapidly accelerating tumor evolution and drug resistance through its unique mechanism of inheritance (Science 2014, Nature 2017, Nature Reviews Cancer 2019). These findings challenge existing chromosomal maps of cancer and provide new insights into the problem of oncogene amplification, including elucidation of molecular mechanisms that control the level, location and activity of amplified oncogenes, and their functional and clinical consequences.
We complement this line of research with studies on gene-environment interactions, including determining how gene amplification and epigenetic remodeling determine metabolic pathway choices in cancer. This line of research has revealed unique pathogenic mechanisms, actionable vulnerabilities, new classes of drug targets, and “rules” to guide precision cancer medicine strategies for patients (Nature 2019, Molecular Cell 2017, Cancer Cell 2016, Molecular Cell 2015, Cell Metabolism 2013)
I graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania (1984) and received my M.D. with honors (Alpha Omega Alpha) from Cornell University Medical College (1991) and completed residency and fellowship training in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology at UCLA. I subsequently did post-doctoral research training with Professor Louis Reichardt, an HHMI Investigator at UCSF, and started my own lab at UCLA in 1998. In August of 2012, I was recruited to the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego Branch.
In 2007, I was inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and was subsequently elected to be its President 2010/11. I was also inducted into the American Association of Physicians (AAP), and in 2015, I was inducted as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015.
Our papers have been published in Nature, Science, New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine, Nature Cell Biology, Cell Metabolism, Cancer Cell, Molecular Cell, Cancer Discovery, Nature Reviews Cancer, PNAS, Science Signaling, and Science Translational Medicine. Our work in cancer has been widely highlighted by the scientific press in research highlights or articles in Nature World News, Science, Nature Medicine, Cancer Discovery, Nature Reviews Genetics, The Scientist, Cell Chemical Biology, Genetic Engineering News, and the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Currents Blog.
Although my laboratory has historically been known for its work on the highly lethal brain cancer, Glioblastoma, we now focus on fundamental mechanisms of tumor pathogenesis that are common across many cancer types, with the goal of yielding new insight and better treatments for cancer patients, including those with glioblastoma.
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive,
Cellular and Molecular Medicine East Building
La Jolla, California, U.S. 92093-0670
T 858 534 7802
F 858 534 7750