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Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University

Research Summary

Dr. Roper has been an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, and Cell Biology at Duke University School of Medicine since 2019. His laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of intestinal epithelial homeostasis in injury, repair, and cancer initiation. His postdoctoral work at MIT focused on mechanisms of how obesity impacts intestinal stem cell function and cancer initiation and on the development of novel mouse models applying CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and organoid transplantation to model gastrointestinal diseases such as colorectal cancer. In collaboration with Aviv Regev’s group at the Broad Institute, he co-led a project to investigate cellular heterogeneity in genetically engineered mouse models of colorectal cancer using single cell RNA sequencing and spatial transcriptomics. They found three cellular neighborhood archetypes that were associated with tumor progression: 1) inflammatory epithelial regions; 2) epithelial stem-like regions; and 3) epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) regions with dysplastic cells expressing a Wnt signaling program. These cellular regions correlated with malignancy and clinical outcome in human patient tumors. This work forms the basis for multiple ongoing projects in the lab, including an NCI R37 award-funded project to study mechanisms of obesity-associated colorectal carcinogenesis.

CGIBD Focus Area(s):  Clinical/Translational Research

Collaborators:  Gonzalez, Rawls, Sullivan

Jatin Roper