Keywords: Chromatin biology, RNA biology, transcription, enhancers, genomics, pioneer transcription factors
Dr. Franco has a primary appointment in the Department of Genetics and is a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. After receiving his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics from the University of Puerto Rico Medical School in 2011, he became an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. W. Lee Kraus at UT Southwest Medical Center. Dr. Franco’s work focused on molecular crosstalk between the endocrine and immune systems as well as non-coding RNAs and epigenetics in breast cancer.
Dr. Franco has been awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Cancer Institute to continue his work as a faculty member at UNC. His lab will focus on studying the formation and function of transcriptional enhancers and the non-coding RNAs that are actively produced at enhancers, such as enhancer RNAs and long non-coding RNAs, which are involved in modulating several aspects of gene regulation. In addition, his lab will aim to understand how transcriptional enhancers help orchestrate responses to external stimuli found in the tumor microenvironment. The Franco lab will address these research aims by using an interdisciplinary approach that combines state-of-the-art molecular and cellular techniques with powerful genomic and computational approaches.