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Kevin Pruitt, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member with research interests in cancer epigenetics, Wnt signaling, and cancer-associated estrogen biosynthesis.

Associate Professor, Pharmacology
UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Genetics

Area of Interest

Research in the Pruitt laboratory focuses on three areas of investigation:

Cancer epigenetics: FDA-approved “epigenetic therapies” exhibit anti-cancer activity but much remains unknown about their mechanisms of action. Because the epigenome of cancer cells within the tumor microenvironment (TME) directly impacts tumor progression, it is important to understand the regulation and contribution of epigenetic drivers. Research in the Pruitt lab is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which epigenetic readers, writers and erasers modulate oncogenic signaling and tumor growth. Moreover, this project seeks to determine how tumor-intrinsic epigenetic changes contribute to tumor infiltrating leukocyte (TIL) recruitment in the TME.

Wnt Signaling: Alterations in Wnt signaling drive pathologies ranging from developmental disorders to cancers. Wnt ligands activate Dishevelled (DVL) proteins which coordinate multiple Wnt signaling branches. Despite the critical role of DVL in Wnt signaling, its nuclear role remains an enigma. This second project seeks to define the role of cytosolic and nuclear DVL in cancer progression. We are elucidating the role of DVL family members in transcription of novel gene targets, especially those which could impact the recruitment of immune cells to the TME.

Cancer-associated estrogen biosynthesis: The CYP19A1 gene encodes aromatase which catalyzes the conversion of androgens to estrogens. Its dysfunctional regulation drives disparate pathologies ranging from autoimmune disorders and endometriosis to cancer. In screens for new mechanisms of transcriptional and post-translational regulation of aromatase, we identified new candidates. This third project seeks to characterize these new mechanisms of aromatase regulation.

Find publications on PubMed

Awards and Honors

  • Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award, TTUHSC, SGA, and GSBS, 2023
  • Outstanding Research and Student Mentor Award, TTUHSC, GSBS, 2022
  • University Distinguished Faculty, TTUHSC, 2018
  • Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Rising Star Recruitment award, 2015-2020
  • American Cancer Society (ACS) Postdoctoral Fellow, 2003-2006
  • UNCF-Merck Graduate Research Dissertation Fellow, 2000-2001
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Pre-doctoral Fellow, 1997-2000
Headshot of Kevin Pruitt.