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Associate Professor
  • 765-496-1658
  • HANS B054B

Associated website(s):

Lab Website , Publications



(Cancer and Molecular Biology) Identifying roles for microRNAs in cancer development and progression and using this knowledge for clinical applications.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that posttranscriptionally regulate the expression of protein-coding genes. The discovery of miRNAs has resulted in a paradigm shift in our knowledge about gene control and therapeutic intervention. Through their binding to their target genes, these “master regulators” induce subtle alterations in gene expression that can culminate in major phenotypic changes. This is based on the notion that miRNAs are pleiotropic, referring to the fact that miRNAs can bind to and affect multiple targets. Although the expression of an individual miRNA target may only change marginally, the combined effect of suppressing several targets at the same time results in a phenotypic transformation. This is most clearly illustrated in the context of cancer where miRNA dysregulation contributes to many types of cancer. In some instances the combination of multiple subtle changes causes the tumor cells to become addicted to a single miRNA. MiR-21 and miR-155 are two oncogenic miRNAs (oncomiRs) that have shown this type of addictive pattern in vivo . Similarly loss of key tumor suppressive miRNAs, through epigenetic silencing, genomic loss, and reduced upstream signaling and processing, has been correlated with disease state. Based on this knowledge we have embarked on three very distinct yet equally important areas of miRNA therapeutic biology.

Project 1: Using tumor suppressive miRNAs as cancer therapeutics and sensitizers

Project 2: Restoring let-7 processing through small molecule discovery

Project 3: Identification of miRNAs that potentiate KRAS- and/or p53- driven lung tumorigenesis

Education and Training

  • 2003-2009 - PhD, Emory University
  • 2009-2013 - Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University
  • 2017, American Cancer Society, Research Scholar Awardee
  • 2015, Favorite Faculty Nominee, Purdue University
  • 2015, Student Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institutes
  • 2013, Pathway to Independence Award, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institutes
  • 2013, Benjamin F. Trump Award, Aspen Cancer Conference
  • 2013, Aspen Cancer Fellow
  • 2012, Pilot Grant, Yale Center for Molecular Discovery
  • 2012, Student Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health
  • 2012, Women in Cancer Research Scholar, American Association of Cancer Research
  • 2011, Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Cancer Society
  • 2010, Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
  • 2008, Graduate Student Research Festival, National Institutes of Health
Relevant Publications

Invited and Selected Presentations

  • The RNA Summit: Research, Diagnostics & Therapeutics, Boston, MA, November 13, 2017

  • 2nd International Aegean Conference on the Long and the Short of Non-Coding RNAs, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, June 9, 2017

  • 22nd Annual Meeting of the RNA Society, Prague, Czech Republic, May 30, 2017

  • American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, April 1, 2017

  • Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, Banff, Alberta Canada, February 7, 2017

  • 6th International Symposium on Folate Receptors, Breckenridge, CO, September 19, 2016

  • American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, April 16, 2016

  • Experimental Biology, San Diego, April 5, 2016

  • 3rd Annual Summit on Thoracic Malignancies and Head and Neck Cancer, Puerto Rico, December 10, 2015

  • Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, Denver, CO, June 7, 2015

  • microRNA as Biomarkers and Diagnostics, Cambridge, MA, March 16, 2015

  • 2nd Annual Lung Cancer Summit, Dallas, TX, December 12, 2014

  • microRNA World Conference, Boston, MA, October 27, 2014

  • Aspen Cancer Conference, Aspen, Co, July 15, 2013
  • NIH Lung SPORE Workshop, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD, July 11, 2013
  • Department of Molecular Pathology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston Tx, April 5, 2013
  • Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston Tx, March 26, 2013
  • Departments of Hematology and Medical Oncology, and Radiation Oncology, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga, March 13, 2013
  • Department of Biology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, December 12, 2012
  • The 4 th Japanese Association for RNAi International Symposium, Hiroshima, Japan, August 30, 2012
  • Thoracic Oncology Board, Emory University, Atlanta GA, May 1, 2012
  • ILIS Health and Environmental Science Institute, Silver Springs MD, April 24, 2012
  • American Association of Cancer Research Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 2, 2012
  • Eighth Annual microRNA in Human Disease and Development Meeting, Cambridge Healthtech, Cambridge, MA, March 12, 2012

Current Grant Funding

  • R01 NCI - CA205420 "Enhancing miRNA Therapeutics Through Combinatorial Targeting and Vehicle-Free Delivery"
  • R00 NCI - CA178091 "Identification and Therapeutic Application of miRNA Drivers in Lung Cancer"
  • RSG-17-198-01, American Cancer Society "Enhancing microRNA Therapeutics Through Vehicle-Free Delivery"

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