Oncogenic mutations are transforming in only certain contexts, a phenomenon called oncogenic competence. This can be due to both cell-intrinsic properties (i.e., differentiation state and anatomic position) as well as cell-extrinsic (i.e., microenvironmental) factors. My project focuses on the ways in which differentiation state and anatomic position merge to mediate oncogenic competence. Previous work from our lab found that anatomic positioning is a key reason why melanocytes found in acral locations (i.e., hands and feet in humans) are more susceptible to the oncogene, CRKL, versus melanocytes found in other parts of the body. Moreover, additional work found that the melanoblast state is more oncogenically competent than the melanocyte state. In my project I will utilize a hiPSC model to evaluate cell intrinsic factors that maintain anatomic positioning and factors that maintain melanocyte differentiation states. Altogether, I aim to address how cell state and anatomic positioning converge to modulate oncogenic competence in melanoma subtypes.
I graduated from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland, USA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry/Biology. After graduating from Loyola, I was a research technician in the laboratory of Dr. Craig Thompson at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). During my time in the Thompson Lab, I studied how amino acid deprivation affects tRNA uncharging/charging. After my time in the Thompson Lab, I began my PhD studies at the Louis V. Gerstner Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at MSKCC in the White Lab. I am now continuing my graduate work in the White Lab at Oxford.