Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Oklahoma
Dissertation Project: The role of the IKK/NF-κB pathway in glioblastoma cancer stem cells
As an undergraduate student, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce Roe in the biochemistry department. He led the Advanced Center for Genome Technology, a high-throughput sequencing facility that participated in the Human Genome Project. I participated in a wide variety of projects, from sequencing bacterial DNA in Oklahoma soil samples to analyzing human samples for disease-associated SNPs.
Upon graduation, I came straight to the University of North Carolina. As a BBSP student, I rotated in the laboratories of Dr. William Coleman, Dr. Monte Willis, and Dr. Al Baldwin. Dr. Coleman’s lab had already identified a hypermethylator defect in breast cancer cell lines. I investigated this phenotype in primary breast cancer samples. With Dr. Willis, I examined the regulation of the transcription factor E2F1 by the ubiquitin ligase MuRF-1.
Broadly, the Baldwin lab is interested in the regulation and functions of the NF-κB pathway, especially within the setting of oncogenesis. As NF-κB has been implicated downstream of transformation through our work and others, we were interested in determining if NF-κB is active in cancer stem cells. During my rotation, I determined that NF-κB is preferentially activated in the cancer stem cell subset. Upon joining the lab, my focus is determining how NF-κB contributes to the maintenance and function of these cells. Ultimately, I would like to pursue the therapeutic implications of our findings as novel treatment options for glioblastoma patients.