Office of VP for Research
Research in this lab focuses on the crosstalk between genetic and epigenetic factors in regulating tissue homeostasis and carcinogenesis. They perform genomics and epigenomics studies to define the role of gene-environment interaction in cancer development, and to identify actionable targets for cancer prevention and treatment. One of the genes they focus on is hairless, which encodes a transcription co-regulator that is essential for skin homeostasis and hair follicle cycling. Several lines of evidence suggest that hairless functions as a master regulator of skin homeostasis via controlling the expression of its target genes involved in cell proliferation, apoptosis, stem cell function, and immune response. Mutational inactivation of hairless alone can dramatically increase tumor incidence and burden in response to chemical induction or UV radiation. In human skin squamous cell carcinomas and other cancer types, the researchers found frequent deletions of the hairless gene. They have compelling evidence suggesting that hairless is a pivotal tumor suppressor gene. They are performing targeted sequencing studies to profile hairless genetic alterations in human skin cancers and breast cancers.