I am an assistant professor in the Department of Human Oncology. The focus of my lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms of lung cancer progression towards metastasis. Towards this effort, we apply experimental biophysical, optical imaging and computational approaches towards the analyses of genes that are dysregulated in these cancers. Through cancer patient sequencing efforts, we have identified genes that are differentially expressed in the brain. We decipher the role of these genes through engineering cell lines, tissue slices and mouse models and interrogate their roles in invasion and migration, closely mimicking metastatic behaviour. This approach will eventually lead to tailored treatments of patients and increase survival outcomes.
My laboratory fosters multidisciplinary environment that bridges between physics, chemistry and biology with the aim of training undergraduate, graduate and medical students towards aligning their interests in challenging questions in cancer. We constantly interact and discuss with biomedical engineers, medical, radiation oncologists and pathology experts to further our understanding the clinical manifestations of the various stages of cancer. With our combined efforts, I hope to make a difference in the life of patients and improve their quality of life.
We are currently adopting a reverse-engineering approach using various scaffolds that recapitulate the 3D architecture of the lung. Differentially expressed genes identified from genome analyses of matched primary tumor and lung brain metastasis are fluorescently tagged and its biomechanical and invasive properties are being investigated. Furthermore, in collaboration with Drs. David Beebe and David Kaplan (Tufts University), we are building a 3D lung tissue model using silk as a scaffold towards understanding cancer metastases.