Research

Research

I gained extensive expertise in human genetics, molecular & cell biology, cancer biology, genomics and systems biology from my undergraduate training with Dr. Mark Stoneking at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany), my graduate training with Dr. Frank Buchholz at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (Dresden, Germany) and from my postdoctoral training with Dr. Kevin White at the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology at the University of Chicago.

Since starting my own lab at UT Southwestern in 2010 I have been developing a research program that aims to understand the role of aberrant transcriptional regulation in the generation and maintenance of common solid tumors The generous support from a recruitment award of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and the John L. Roach Scholarship in Biomedical Research of the Endowed Scholars Program at UT Southwestern have enabled me to develop an innovative cancer research program.

The ultimate goal of my research is to develop novel therapeutic approaches that target transcription factors, which play important roles in common solid tumors (brain, breast, lung and prostate cancer) and could therefore have translational potential.

To harness the therapeutic potential of transcription factors we need to develop mechanistic understanding of both their genomic actions and the regulation of their activity and stability by other proteins or small molecules.

For that purpose, my research utilizes (1) sequencing-based genomic techniques (e.g. ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq) and related computational approaches to characterize the gene regulatory networks of transcription factors in cancer; (2) RNAi screening and proteomics to identify ‘druggable’ modulators of transcription factor activity and stability; (3) chemical library screening to identify small molecules that affect transcription factor activity and/or stability; (4) biochemistry and cell biology to characterize properties and functions of transcription factors, their modulators and target genes; and (5) in vivo experiments to test the effects of transcription factor targeting on tumor growth.

Also, I serve as the Director of the McDermott Next Generation Sequencing Core and participate in the training of graduate students in the Cancer Biology and Genetics and Development programs of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UTSW.