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Department of Molecular & Cellular Oncology and Center for Biological Pathways Seminar Series

Department of Molecular & Cellular Oncology and Center for Biological Pathways Seminar Series

PRESENTER:  Channing J. Der, PhD, Kenan Distinguished Professor, Professor, Dept of Pharmacology, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC

TOPIC:  "Aberrant Ras and Rho Signaling: Drugging the Undruggable"

HOSTS:  Dr. Mien-Chie Hung and Dr. Dihua Yu

Date: 1/16/13, 11am to 12:30pm
Time: 1/16/13, 11am to 12:30pm
Location: AT&T Auditorium, Main Building, Floor 2 (B2.4750)
Format: Seminar/Conference
CME: n/a
Facilitator: Dr. Dihua Yu
Speaker: Dr. Channing J. Der
Speaker Bio: Since 1985, a major goal of our research has been the elucidation of the mechanisms by which aberrant Ras signal transduction promotes the malignant growth of lung, colon and pancreatic carcinomas, and melanomas. One major goal of our studies involves the dissection of the downstream effector signaling networks that are regulated by Ras, in particular the Raf-MEK-ERK, RalGEF-Ral and RacGEF-Rac effector pathways. Another involves defining the role of posttranslational lipid and protein kinase-dependent modifications in regulating Ras subcellular localization. An emphasis in these studies is the validation of Ras regulators or effectors as targets for anti-Ras drug discovery. In particular, we have focused on inhibitors of protein kinases that act as effectors or regulators of effector function (e.g., ERK, PAK1). A second major goal of our studies involves the dissection of mechanisms that cause aberrant activation of Ras homologous (Rho) small GTPases, in particular RhoA and Rac1. Unlike Ras, Rho deregulation occurs by indirect mechanisms, often by deregulated function of the guanine nucleotide exchange factors (e.g., P-Rex, Ect2) or GTPase activating proteins (e.g., DLC-1) that control Rho GTPase activity. A major focus of our studies is the elucidation of the mechanisms that cause altered GEF or GAP regulation of Rho GTPases, to identify potential avenues for blocking Rho activation in cancer. Overall, our studies take a multi-faceted approach that includes the application of protein crystallography, gene array analyses, proteomics, genetic analyses of C. elegans, and the use of geneticallyengineered and patient tumorgraph mouse models of pancreatic and colon cancer. Our studies address basic mechanisms of signal transduction and we work closely with the biotech and pharmaceutical industry to help transition novel targeted therapies for cancer into the clinic.
Sponsor: Dr. Mien-Chie Hung
Contact: Lola Small - 27477 - lsmall@mdanderson.org