Biology Seminar: Michele Markstein, Ph.D.

Cancer Stem Cells: Getting Their Fix

February 25, 2013 - 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm (already occurred)

Dr. Michele Markstein is an Assistant Professor of Biology at UMASS Amherst. Her laboratory uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to identify drugs and drug targets that can block the growth of cancer stem cells in vivo. Drosophila may seem like an odd choice because fruit flies do not get cancer in the wild. However, in the lab we can build tumor models in flies that have many features in common with mammalian cancers. This is a powerful approach because it enables us to perform large-scale cancer screens in vivo on a scale that is not feasible in mammals. In her talk, Dr. Markstein will discuss a tumor model that she created by mis-expressing a human RAF oncogene (a gene that causes cancer in humans) in the adult fly intestine. She will show how she has used this model to identify drugs with anti-cancer activity as well as genes required by tumor cells. When tumor cells depend on certain genes for their survival, they are said to be “addicted” to those genes. She is now focusing on identifying “epigenetic addictions” of tumor cells —genes required by tumor cells to turn genes on and off across the genome. [Host: Rachel Levin]

Contact Info

Ms. Tracie L. Rubeck Ph.D.
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