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Key signaling pathways in cancer: Links to developmental biology

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Key signaling pathways in cancer: Links to developmental biology

Recorded 02 June 2016



It is notable that the same pathways governing the cell growth, death, and differentiation decisions made during embryonic development are also common drivers of adult malignancy. In this webinar, we will explore the idea that a better understanding of developmental biology signaling pathways will advance our understanding of adult tumors and cancer stem cells as well as boost our ability to create effective therapeutics to fight a broad array of cancers.

During the webinar, our speakers will:

  • Discuss the mechanisms and control of antiproliferation signaling from cytokines such as transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) and their role in cancer progression
  • Explain the role of the Hedgehog signaling pathway in embryonic development and how it is deregulated in certain skin cancers and in pancreatic cancer
  • Elucidate how the microenvironment impacts the behavior of tissue stem cells and how this crosstalk goes awry in cancer.

The webinar will last approximately 60 minutes.

You can also view Part 2 of this series.

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Speaker bios

Elaine Fuchs, Ph.D.

HHMI/Rockefeller University
New York, NY

Dr. Fuchs is a renowned for her research in the biology of the skin, its stem cells, and its associated genetic disorders, including cancers. She undertook her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Princeton University, followed by postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after which she joined the faculty at the University of Chicago. In 2002, she relocated to Rockefeller University, where she is currently the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development. She has been an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) since 1988. Dr. Fuchs’ awards and honors include the Richard Lounsbery Award from the National Academy of Sciences, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Excellence in Science Award, the National Medal of Science, the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science, the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, the Pasarow Award for Cancer Research, the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research, and the E.B. Wilson Medal. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), the American Philosophical Society, and the European Molecular Biology Organization (foreign member). She holds honorary doctorates from New York University School of Medicine, the University of Illinois, and Albany Medical College. She is a past president of the American Society for Cell Biology, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and the Harvey Society.

Rik Derynck, Ph.D.

University of California San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

Dr. Rik Derynck pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Louvain, Belgium, and his doctoral research at the University of Ghent, Belgium. In 1981, he joined Genentech in South San Francisco, California, where his research resulted in the molecular characterization of transforming growth factor (TGF)-α and TGF-β, which then became the prototype of the large TGF-β family of differentiation factors. In 1991, he joined the University of California, San Francisco, where he is currently co-director of the Ely and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research. Dr. Derynck’s research has greatly impacted our understanding of TGF-β family signaling mechanisms, with many mechanistic and conceptual advances (and reagents) originating from his lab; his findings have also helped to provide the foundation for therapeutic approaches based on the inhibition of TGF-β signaling. His lab’s current research focus is on understanding both TGF-β receptor activation and Smad- and non-Smad-mediated TGF-β signaling mechanisms, and their roles in epithelial-mesenchymal transition.

Benjamin L. Allen, Ph.D.

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Dr. Allen is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan Medical School. He is also director of the Microscopy and Image Analysis Laboratory at the University of Michigan, and associate director of the Michigan Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program. He obtained his B.S. in animal science from Cornell University and earned a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Allen subsequently performed postdoctoral research as a fellow of the American Cancer Society at Harvard University. In 2009 he accepted a faculty position at the University of Michigan, where he investigates fundamental mechanisms of growth factor and morphogen signaling in the context of embryonic and postnatal development; adult tissue homeostasis, renewal and regeneration; and disease initiation and progression. In particular, Dr. Allen is focused on understanding the regulation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway in diverse developmental processes and its deregulation in disease, including skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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