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Overview

Our laboratory is interested in how genetic programs governing embryonic development are exploited during cancer initiation and progression.  After fertilization, a single cell must coordinate cell proliferation with cell migration and differentiation to produce approximately 100 trillion cells that are arranged in a highly ordered manner to generate the many different organs and tissues of the human body.  The genetic and epigenetic programs controlling embryogenesis are often aberrantly activated or re-wired in human cancers to promote uncontrolled proliferation and metastasis.  Research in our laboratory uses a unique combination of developmental biology and cancer biology techniques to identify novel therapeutics that kill cancer cells by targeting “reactivated” embryonic genetic programs.  We use a number of methods in the lab to attack this problem, including embryology, live-imaging, genetics, genomics and epigenetics, as well as zebrafish pre-clinical cancer models, human cell culture and analysis of clinical sample.  Our laboratory has a focus on treating pediatric cancers, such as neuroblastoma and pediatric brain tumors, due to the known involvement of defective developmental pathways in cancer formation and their highly metastatic behavior.

Stewart Team