Ronald Laribee, PhD, Receives $358,377 from National Cancer Institute

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Ronald Laribee, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology at UTHSC, has received a $358,377 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The research focuses on a signaling pathway gone awry in many human cancers.

Ronald Laribee, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a $358,377 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The research focuses on a signaling pathway gone awry in many human cancers. The award will be used to further his existing study titled, “Epigenetic Regulation By Target of Rapamycin (TOR) Signaling.” The grant will be distributed over a two-year period.

The ability of a cell to “remember” which specific genes should be expressed or silenced in a given cell type through many cell generations is crucial for cell development and function in the human body. This process is known as epigenetic memory and when it goes awry, it directly causes or contributes to cancer. Dr. Laribee’s laboratory studies the genetic and biochemical pathways controlling epigenetic regulation* and their relationship to cancer.

“The grant our laboratory was awarded from the National Cancer Institute strives to understand how the TOR signaling pathway, which is altered in most cancers, affects epigenetic processes controlling cell growth and proliferation,” said Dr. Laribee. “We have performed a chemical genomics screen in yeast to identify TOR-regulated epigenetic pathways crucial for controlling cell growth and that could be targets for anti-cancer drug development.”

Future studies, in collaboration with other investigators at the UT Center for Cancer Research, will be to determine if these epigenetic pathways are deregulated in human cancers caused by elevated TOR signaling and if they could be targets for anti-cancer drug development.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients. For more information, please visit www.cancer.gov.

*epigenetic regulation- The study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the DNA sequence.