I never imagined I would spend my career trying to solve one of humanity's most daunting biological challenges. The future of cancer research makes me optimistic, and I consider myself lucky to be able to study such an important problem with such brilliant minds. However, we as researchers owe it to our communities to communicate our insights. This is why research and communication are the cornerstones of my approach to working on cancer.
I completed my undergraduate studies in information technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and my doctorate at Boston University in bioinformatics, researching blood epigenetics at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. My current research falls at the crossroads of cell identity, genome variation, and transcriptional therapeutics in the lab of Richard A. Young at the Whitehead Institute. The lab focuses on mechanisms that govern cell identity, and I investigate a variety of cancer-specific problems, including identifying mutations, understanding biomarkers, developing drugs, and halting drug resistance.
It has been my privilege to work within the lab and with collaborators at institutions like the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. My primary research interest is in identifying and understanding mutations that change the amount of protein produced from certain genes, without altering protein structure. These regulatory mutations change the wiring of a cell’s control circuitry and can deactivate tumor-suppressing pathways or reactivate pathways that increase cell growth and survival. Using my skills toward this goal has proven incredibly rewarding.
Whether giving talks or webcasts, writing blog posts, or maintaining a presence on social media, I constantly seek effective ways to share scientific insights into cancer biology with the public. All researchers can benefit from having the right tools to communicate their work to non-scientists, and, through the AACR Associate Member Council, I hope to help my fellow members hone these abilities. Communicating our best understanding of cancer and evidence-based treatment options is critical to gaining trust and investment in our research. An invested, informed public will help propel scientific advancement and make strides to understand and treat cancers.