Professor, Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology
- BS, Biology, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
- MD, Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Germany
- PhD, Physiology, University of Heidelberg, Germany
Basic and translational brain tumor research
Research: My research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of brain tumor development and growth and on using the acquired knowledge to identify new targets and develop new approaches for experimental brain tumor therapy. Specifically, the following projects are ongoing in my lab at this time:
Project 1: To study the role of non-coding RNAs in brain tumor and brain metastasis malignancy and uncover new therapeutic targets: Non-coding RNAs are regulatory RNAs that play important roles in regulating normal and cancer biology. We are studying the expressions, targets, mechanisms of action and functions of microRNAs, TUCRs and lncRNAs in gliomas and brain metastasis. The goal is to understand their role in brain tumor development and growth and identify new therapeutic targets in brain tumors.
Project 2: To investigate Transcribed Ultra-Conserved Regions (TUCR) in gliomas: TUCR are regions of the genome that are greater than 200 base pairs in length and are highly conserved across two or more species. The expression of TUCRs is commonly deregulated in cancer, where they might exert crucial regulatory roles. However, the literature elucidating their functional roles and their mechanisms of action in cancer is very sparse, with the literature on their role in glioblastoma being inexistent. This project aims to identify TUCRs that are differentially expressed in glioblastoma, uncover potential correlations with clinical parameters, determine their functional role and mechanisms of action, and evaluate their potential as therapeutic targets.
Project 3: To assess the roles and therapeutic targeting of T-Type calcium channels in brain tumors: We are performing a comprehensive investigation of the roles and potential therapeutic exploitation of T-type calcium channels in glioblastoma and medulloblastoma. We are specifically focusing on investigating their roles in mediating the recently discovered tumor promoting neuron/tumor cell interactions.
Project 4: To study brain metastasis: Brain metastases affect > 200,000 patients in the US each year and has a dismal prognosis. However, this field is understudied and the processes and mechanisms of brain metastasis remain little known. We are investigating the roles of microRNAs in priming the brain microenvironment for metastasis from primary lung, breast and melanoma tumors using paired human tumors and metastasis animal models.