Assistant Professor, Dermatology; Feinberg School of Medicine
Tumor Invasion, Metastasis & Angiogenesis,TRIST-Skin Cancers
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Cells contact and communicate with their neighbors via specialized cell surface receptors. This intimate exchange of information controls morphogenetic events during embryonic development and maintains tissue organization in adults. Cancers commonly result when cells fail to recognize and respond appropriately to their surrounding microenvironment. The work in my laboratory is guided by the hypothesis that epithelial cells receive and interpret contextual information about their microenvironment through the coordination of adhesion and signaling receptor systems present on the cell surface. To test this idea, we manipulate the ability of epithelial cells to interact with one another and measure their capacity to transduce intracellular signals that regulate cell fate and behavior. In parallel, we assess the potential of cell surface signaling receptors to alter the manner in which epithelial cells adhere to their partners. A three-dimensional in vitro model of the human epidermis is used to help define these adhesion-signaling networks during epithelial tissue morphogenesis.