Area of interest
My research is focused on understanding the biology of cancer through gene expression analyses and integrative genomic approaches. We have been long time members of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project that has comprehensively characterized over 10,000 samples from 33 tumor types. UNC was one of the main RNA sequencing centers for the TCGA project and we participated in the gene expression analysis for many of these projects. This included co-first author of the TCGA’s first pan-cancer subtype analysis which was listed by ASCO as one of the Clinical Cancer Advances of 2015 and selected by the Clinical Research Forum as one of the Top Ten Clinical Research Achievements Awards of 2015.
The pan-cancer analysis integrated genomic subtype information from multiple platforms and identified classifications that both showed similarities across tumors from different organs as well as divergence of tumors from the same organ. In particular, we found that the Basal-like subtype of breast cancer was distinct from other subtypes of breast cancer even when compared to 11 other distinct tumor types suggesting it might be from a different cell of origin. The further characterization of Basal-like breast cancer is the focus of my current Komen Career Catalyst award. I am also continuing my collaborative work as the PI for the NCI’s Center for Cancer Genomics new Genomic Data Analysis Network as a specialized center for RNA sequencing analysis. We will build on the experience developed in TCGA to analyze data for new NCI programs and collaborations such as the Cancer Driver Discovery Program and ALCHEMIST. I am currently co-chairing the Testicular Germ Cell Analysis Working Group and am on the Steering Committee for the full Pan-cancer Atlas project in TCGA.
Awards and Honors
2015 Susan G. Komen North Carolina Triangle to the Coast Spirit to Impact Award
2015 Clinical Cancer Advances: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer
2015 Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Award, Clinical Research Forum
2015 UNC Junior Faculty Development Award
2011 Weatherspoon Family Brain Tumor Research Award