The Piwnica-Worms Laboratory studies how mammalian cells regulate their division cycles, how DNA damage induces cell death or cell cycle arrest and how cancer cells derail these regulatory pathways. Our ultimate goal is to use this information to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We have translated our basic science discoveries in the form of Phase I clinical trials.
Recognizing that a key challenge facing breast cancer researchers today is the lack of good preclinical models for studying human breast cancer, we are working with primary human breast tumors obtained directly from breast cancer patients. These tumors are being propagated in the humanized mammary fat pads of immune compromised mice for our preclinical studies (PDX/HIM models). Many of these models metastasize out of the mouse mammary gland to distant mouse organs, including bone and lung. We are identifying the molecular changes associated with the acquisition of metastasis in this model. In addition, we are collaborating with our medical colleagues to build PDX models that will be used to investigate resistance mechanisms using functional genomic screens in vivo.
We are also actively involved in Moon Shot efforts aimed at finding targeted therapies for triple negative breast cancer. This involves exciting collaborations with faculty in several basic science departments, as well as Breast Medical Oncology, Surgery, Pathology, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.
The Piwnica-Worms laboratory is in the Department of Cancer Biology, which is located on South Campus.