GCB encompasses a group of researchers who thrive in a highly collaborative and multidisciplinary environment. Our faculty members come together to answer questions that would not be possible within a single discipline.
Nutrient deprivation kills kidney cancer cells
All cells need nutrients, but cancer cells are notoriously power hungry. As a result, cancer cells alter their metabolism to provide the fuel needed to for them to survive, grow and spread. A collaboration between Jen-Tsan Ashley Chi and David Hsu has resulted in the discovery of a promising target for renal cell carcinomas. These cancer cells rewire their metabolism in a way that leaves them addicted to cystine, an outside nutrient. By depriving the cancer cells of cystine, the team triggered a form of cell death called necrosis. Targeting cancer cells for destruction through necrosis holds great therapeutic promise.
Chi and Hsu's research was supported by NIH and the Department of Defense. It was published in Cancer Research in February 2016 and Oncogene in November 2016.
Decoding and reprogramming the corticosteroid transcriptional regulatory network
As part of the Genomics and Gene Regulation project funded by NIH, this research project, led by the Reddy lab, explores the human body's response to chronic stress. Although it is already known that the body releases cortisol when stressed, this project explores the complete mechanism of how cortisol impacts the function of various cell types and tissues. As a drug, cortisol is a potent anti-inflammatory molecule. However, it also has many metabolic side effects, including the increased risk of diabetes. Tim Reddy, Alex Hartemink, Greg Crawford and Charlie Gersbach are collaborating on this study by using a variety of high-throughput assays and integrative analyses to comprehensively characterize how cortisol impacts the body and explore ways to separate out the negative side effects of this very powerful drug.
Decoding Schizophrenia from GWAS to functional regulatory variants: Human FC Study
As part of a grant with the PsychENCODE Consortium, the Crawford lab is studying 300 brain samples, half of which are from people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The lab is working to identify all gene regulatory elements or "switches" that control whether a gene is "on" or "off" across the genome from these 300 samples. The goal is to identify switches specically associated with schizophrenia, and, in turn, identify risk factors for the disorder. The Crawford lab has been collaborating with the Reddy and Gersbach labs. As part of this project, the Reddy lab is applying a high-throughput reporter-based methodology to identify regulatory elements that are utilized differently in individuals with schizophrenia. The Gersbach lab will be validating these results via genome and epigenome editing strategies to study the effects of those elements in neuronal cell types.