Assistant Professor, Molecular Biosciences; Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Cancer Cell Biology
View Publications Listing
Professor Petersen’s research interests are focused on the ability of stem cells to maintain normal adult tissues, repair injured tissues, and become misregulated in cancer progression. His lab is approaching this problem by studying a model organism in which adult stem cells confer almost unlimited abilities of tissue maintenance and regeneration, the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Chronic tissue damage is linked to certain types of cancer, suggesting that the study of signaling from injury sites could identify novel molecules that modulate cancer stem cell function. Recent work in the lab discovered that wounding induces transcription of the gene notum, which inhibits Wnt signaling to control proper regeneration outcomes in planarians. notum encodes a secreted hydrolase that is capable of cleaving a subset of GPI-anchored proteins and is conserved in humans. Results from the Petersen lab on the relationship between wound signaling and stem cells will enable methods to detect and modulate the activity of cancer stem cells.