My research goal is to understand molecular events driving melanoma metastasis and to generate melanoma models based on human pathophysiology recapitulating human melanoma progression.
Our previous research has led to the identification of a novel melanoma metastasis gene, NEDD9, of p130CAS family of adaptor proteins. NEDD9 provides an entry point to achieve my research goal, since it is upregulated up to 50 percent of human metastatic melanomas, and its expression increased the metastatic potential of primary melanocytes. I am currently studying the following: 1) tumor biological functions of NEDD9 in melanoma progression in a genetically engineered mouse model (GEM), 2) molecular mechanisms of how NEDD9 functions to drive metastasis, 3) identification of drug-able targets to inhibit NEDD9-mediated metastasis, and 4) Functional genomic analysis for identification of additional genes for melanoma progression.
Ultimately, we seek to translate our basic discoveries to develop molecularly targeted therapy to inhibit melanoma progression.