My research interests center on the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which cancer cells alter the biology of other cells in the tumor microenvironment. Our ultimate goal is to identify targetable factors to stop cancer progression in bone and improve clinical outcomes. Our lab is active in developing new therapeutics and combination therapy to stop cancer growth and improve bone health. The projects in my lab have a translational focus and employ a combination of cutting-edge in vitro, ex vivo, in vivo, and bioinformatic approaches to study tumor biology and characterize the effects of cancer cells that grow in bone (hematological malignancies and metastatic cancer).
Current projects in my laboratory investigate: 1) newly generated bone-targeted drugs to interfere with communication between myeloma cancer cells and cells of the tumor microenvironment, 2) cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to drug resistance and cancer cell dormancy in multiple myeloma, 3) and the role of senescence in the breast cancer bone metastases. Our lab collaborates with other investigators at UAMS and national institutions on projects investigating the biology of craniofacial bones, the cellular mechanisms underlying Paget’s disease, and the role of extrachromosomal DNA in cancer and bone. My research is supported by the NIH, including funding from the NCI and NIAMS, and intramural grants from the Arkansas Breast Cancer Research Program and the UAMS Musculoskeletal Hub.
In addition to performing research, I seek to be an effective science educator and an inspiring mentor. I have experience mentoring at various career levels (undergrad, graduate, medical students, research technicians, and postdoctoral fellows). I strive to promote acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion in my laboratory and encourage mentees to respect and celebrate diversity. I believe in creating a direct dialogue with the lab trainees to help them discover answers for themselves. I have an “open-door” policy and am available for questions and guidance daily. All members of my laboratory participate in our weekly lab meeting. I encourage them to take part in the discussions and ensure that all points of view are respected. My trainees regularly participate in departmental Workshops, Journal Clubs, and institutional meetings, and attend national and international conferences.