Early Career Ambassadors of the MRS (ECAM)

 

Charter of the Early Career Leadership CouncilECAM

The Early Career Leadership Council (ECLC) is the representative body of the early career members of the Metastasis Research Society (ECAM). The Early Career Ambassadors of the MRS (ECAM) is a term created and formalized by Lalita Shevde-Samant in 2011, that encompasses graduate and medical students and clinical and postdoctoral fellows who are enrolled in educational or training programs leading to careers in cancer metastasis research and/or treatment.

 

Mission and Purpose

The ECLC supports the MRS’s mission to: understand the process of metastasis at the cellular, molecular and biochemical levels; identify and evaluate therapeutics for their ability to control or reduce metastases in preclinical models; and work with clinical colleagues to design and implement clinical trials to translate findings to the clinic. This establishment of the ECLC will enable early career investigators to establish productive relationships with senior metastasis researchers and develop leadership and professional skills in a structured setting.  Overall, the ECLC will address the needs of early career investigators and will develop and implement ECAM-sponsored activities at MRS meetings.

 

SAVE THE DATE! The next Young Investigator Satellite Meeting is August 1st, 2018 at Princeton University! 
The main Biennial Congress will follow from August 2nd-5th, 2018.

 

 

Members of the Early Career Leadership Council (ECLC)

ECAM_COX

 

Thomas R. Cox
(2012 - Present)
ECLC Chair (2016 - 2018)

Group Leader
The Garvan Institute of Medical Research and The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

My research focuses on biomechanical and biochemical microenvironmental regulation of cellular behaviour during breast and colorectal cancer progression and metastasis. In particular, my work looks at the role of Lysyl Oxidase (LOX) and the LOX-like family of proteins, which have been shown to be critical regulators of the extracellular matrix, and their role in metastasis, pre-metastatic niche formation and tissue fibrosis. Through their actions, changes in the biochemistry and biomechanics of tissue ECM act to enhance metastatic spread and colonisation of cancer. By combining biomechanical, cellular and molecular biology approaches with high throughput proteomics and in vivo models I aim to understand how propoerties of the cellular microenvironment influences metastatic networks in disease. 

> Research Homepage
> ResearchGate
> LinkedIn
@thomasrcox on Twitter

 

 

Kristina Marinak
(2016 - 2020)

PhD Candidate
West Virginia University Cancer Institute, Morgantown, WV, USA


I am currently a Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Elena Pugacheva located at the WVU Cancer Institute in WV, USA. My current research projects are focused on Aurora-A Kinase (AURKA), a mitotic kinase and well-characterized proto-oncogene that normally localizes in the cytoplasm at the centrosomes and is crucial for chromosome separation and spindle formation. Our objective is to define the role of nuclear AURKA in Triple Negative Breast Cancer metastasis and molecular targets interacting with nuclear AURKA to develop novel therapeutics. Our lab also utilizes patient derived xenograft models for many subtypes of breast cancer. The ultimate goal of our lab is to define new biomarkers and treatment strategies for Triple Negative Breast Cancer metastasis.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


 

Hanqiu Zheng
(2016 - 2020)

Assistant Professor, Principal Investigator
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

I am currently a junior faculty member at Tsinghua University School of Medicine. I was a postdoc in the laboratory of Dr. Yibin Kang, at Princeton University in New Jersey, USA from 2010-2016. My lab is utilizing xenograft model and genetically engineered mouse model, coupled with large scale genetic forward screening, to identify genes and pathways that mediate tumor-stroma interactions and therapy resistance in bone metastasis. These novel genes and pathways will be further tested as possible drug targets in treating bone metastasis and sensitizing bone metastatic tumor cells to conventional therapy (i.e., chemotherapy). We are hoping that by the collective efforts from metastasis research field and by clinical physicians, we can eliminate this deadly spread in the future.

 

 


ECAM_KLUSMEIER

 

Sandra D. Scherer (Klusmeier)
(2014 - 2018)

PhD Candidate
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology / Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany

I am a PhD student in the group of Professor Jonathan P. Sleeman located at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology/ Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany. My work aims at investigating the role of the tumor microenvironment in breast cancer metastasis and the pre-conditioning of the target organ by certain immune cell populations. In detail, my work focusses on the potential role of tumor-derived VEGF-C (Vascular endothelial growth factor C) in the recruitment of neutrophils to the pre-metastatic niche of breast cancer lung metastases.

> ResearchGate
> LinkedIn

 

 


 

Lenka Kyjacova
(2016 - 2020)

Postdoctoral Fellow
Centre for Biomedicine and Medical Technology Mannheim (CBTM) / Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany

My PhD research at the Institute of Molecular Genetics in Prague, Czech Republic was focused on the radiotherapy-induced plasticity and radioresistance in prostate and breast cancer. Understanding that outgrowth of cancer cells in distant organs is one of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment, I moved in 2016 to Mannheim, Germany to study cancer metastasis in Prof. Jonathan P. Sleeman group. Induction of premature senescence in cancer cells by genotoxic therapies can cause chronic inflammation due to senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). As a postdoctoral fellow, I investigate SASP and its pro-metastatic effects in melanoma. Using high throughput screens, molecular biology techniques, and syngeneic murine models I aim to understand how specific components of SASP shape the tumor microenvironment and contribute to therapy-induced metastasis. In a broader perspective, I hope to identify promising candidates exploitable for anticancer drug development.

> ResearchGate
> LinkedIn
 

 


ECAM_Cook

 

Leah M. Cook
(2014 - 2018)

PostDoctoral Fellow
Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL, USA

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Conor Lynch at the Moffitt Cancer Center.   One primary research focus of our lab involves identifying mechanisms of bone metastatic prostate cancer that promote tumor progression in bone, specifically tumor manipulation of bone stromal cells that drive pathological bone formation, including mesenchymal stromal cells, osteoclasts, osteoclasts. My particular research is centered on developing better therapies/treatments for prostate cancer bone metastasis, using novel tools like computational modeling. In collaboration with the Moffitt Department of Mathematical Oncology, we have developed a computational model of bone metastatic prostate cancer, defining its biological validity using in vivo models of bone metastasis.  By incorporating biomarker data from patient biopsies, we are utilizing our model to identify the evolution of the tumor-bone microenvironment in response to therapy, for optimization and development of new and current therapies, and for identifying novel mechanisms of prostate tumor progression in bone. Future studies will also involve identifying specific multicellular interactions amongst prostate cancer, surrounding bone stromal cells, and bone marrow-resident immune cells.

> Research Homepage
> LinkedIn
> ResearchGate
@lmcdst82 on Twitter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


ECAM_Borriello

 

Lucia Borriello
(2014 - 2018)

Postdoctoral Fellow
Division of Hematology-Oncology at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA

As a postdoctoral fellow, in the laboratory of Dr.Yves A. DeClerck, my research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSC) – mediated drug resistance in Neuroblastoma (NB). The vast majority of patients with NB have tumor cells in the Bone Marrow (BM), which suggests that the BM provides favorable microenvironment rich in cytokines and chemokines produced by MSC that transiently protect NB cells from cytotoxic agents. During this transient protection tumor cells develop an acquired permanent drug resistance that leads to relapse.  In particular, my work looks at the mechanisms by which MSC induce (i) a transient and reversible drug resistance of NB cells by the identification of the survival pathways activated in NB cells and their downstream targets; and (ii) an acquired permanent and irreversible drug resistance by the identification of genetic/epigenetic modifications in NB cells. These studies harbor the potential to identify targetable mechanisms of drug resistance, with the ultimate goal to develop more effective therapeutic strategies to prevent and overcome such resistance in NB patients.

> LinkedIn

 


ECAM_Wiegmans

 

Adrian Wiegmans
(2014 - 2018)

National Breast Cancer Foundation research fellow and senior research officer
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

As a National Breast Cancer Foundation research fellow and senior research officer in the Tumour Microenvironment Lab my research is focused on new molecular mechanisms that support metastasis. We are currently focused on translating our findings to create new diagnostics and therapies for the aggressive and hard to treat triple negative breast cancer but believe our work also has applications for the treatment of both ovarian and prostate cancer. We have discovered that the DNA damage repair protein RAD51 has a role in supporting breast cancer cells ability to metastasize by mechanisms independent of the canonical DNA repair pathway. We have also discovered that cancer cells afford pro-metastatic phenotypes via a new mechanism called protein-only inheritance, whereby cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy by heritable mechanisms that do not alter the genetic code. Working within a medical research Institute means we have a strong translation focus and we are hoping to have new therapies available within 1-3 years

> LinkedIn

 


 

Previous ECLC Committee Members

Lalita Shevde-Samant (2011-2016, Founder of ECLC)
Clare Slaney (2011 - 2014)
Christina Tekle (2011 - 2014)
Josh Neman (2012-2016)
Angelina Londono Joshi (2012-2016)