Assistant Professor, Pharmacology
Area of Interest
- Pancreatic cancer
- Cancer metabolism
- RAS oncogenes
- Molecular therapeutics
The overall goal of our lab is to perform research that contributes to a better understanding of pancreatic cancer biology and leads to improved treatments for this disease. One major focus of our studies is the metabolic activity, autophagy, which is a self-degradation process whereby cells can orderly clear defective organelles and recycle macromolecules as a nutrient source. Autophagy is elevated and essential for the tumorigenic growth of KRAS-mutant pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). We recently determined that the treatment of PDAC with inhibitors of the key KRAS effector pathway, the RAF-MEK-ERK mitogenic activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade, caused further elevation of autophagy, rendering PDAC acutely dependent on this process, and hypersensitive to autophagy inhibition.
Current projects are focused on further advancing autophagy inhibition as an anti-RAS therapeutic approach, as well as delineating other metabolic consequences of RAF-MEK-ERK MAPK inhibition. Projects will involve the use of unbiased chemical and genetic screening technologies, proteomics, confocal microscopy, and patient-tumor derived organoid culture systems. These studies will enhance our understanding of metabolic dysregulation in cancer and aid in the development of novel therapies for RAS-mutant cancers.
News and Stories
Inspired research: A conversation with Kirsten Bryant, PhD
Kirsten Bryant, PhD, shares what motivates her in the lab, how mentorship and advocacy have fueled her passion for pancreatic cancer research, and why she's encouraged by progress made in the past decade.
PanCAN backs Der and Bryant Labs with two-year, $340,000 award
UNC Lineberger’s Channing Der, PhD, and Kirsten Bryant, PhD, are among seven recipients of the inaugural Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) Therapeutic Accelerator Collaborative Award, which provides a total of $340,000 in grant support over two years.
Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence to leverage research and clinical care innovations for patients
The Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence brings together researchers, clinicians and staff to provide excellent multidisciplinary patient care and generate research discoveries that can be translated into new, more effective approaches for pancreatic cancer.
Bryant named 2021 New York Academy of Science Rising Star in Cancer Metabolism
Kirsten Bryant, PhD, was named a 2021 New York Academy of Science Rising Star in Cancer Metabolism, honoring her work as an early career researcher.