Cancer Biology

Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular Biology

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer resulting from abnormal growth of melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells of the skin. Multiple screening efforts have led to the discovery of new genes that may be responsible for the initiation or progression of melanoma. However, these genes need to be functionally tested before we are able to truly understand their impact on this disease. Our research will employ molecular cloning methods to study these novel genes and their impact on cellular signaling pathways. Over the course of a semester, undergraduates will use SnapGene software to simulate molecular cloning. Then, they will learn to design and synthesize a target gene/construct an expression vector, transfect cells, and characterize gene expression at the protein level by western blotting. These genes will then be tested functionally using various in-vitro assays to gain an understanding of the gene’s effect on melanoma cell proliferation/invasion/and migration. By achieving a better understanding of the role of target genes and their contribution to melanoma, we will be able to identify therapeutic targets that may advance the outcome of melanoma therapies.

Stream Leaders

Sheri Holmen, PhD
Researcher, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI)