Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health

2017 BESIP Project

Cellular and Molecular Biology Section
Mentor Name: 
Giovanna Tosato, M.D.
Mentor Email: 

Laboratory and Project Description

Our laboratory studies the contribution of blood vessels to the development and progression of cancer. It is clear that most cancer cells display genetic differences that distinguish them from the normal cells from which they presumably derive. These genetic differences are at the core of the malignant phenotype, as they are linked to increased proliferative capacity, reduced death and increased motility of the cancer cells. In addition to genetic mutations that directly affect the tumor cell, there are other genetic mutations that influence the environment in which the tumors arise or metastasize rendering these tumor microenvironments more favorable for tumors to grow. Changes in the tumor vasculature are often associated with better perfusion of the tumor cells providing additional supply of nutrients and oxygen. Changes in the inflammatory cells that infiltrate the tumor tissue may result in increased tumor growth. Currently, the laboratory is focused on:
  1. Understanding the physical and biochemical differences that distinguish tumor-infiltrating vessels from the vessels in the normal corresponding tissues;
  2. Identification of target molecules in the tumor endothelium and development of drugs targeting these molecules for selective disruption of the tumor vasculature;
  3. Study of the mechanistic aspects for the recruitment of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from the bone marrow to the circulation;
  4. Definition of the homing mechanisms that favor the migration of bone marrow derived cells to extramedullary sites of tumor growth, including the primary tumor and the metastatic sites.
SIP students will be exposed to research on these topics and will be engaged in a specific aspect of one of these projects, commensurate with the candidate expertise, desires, time constrains and probability of success in the experimental part. The candidates will acquire expertise in fields such as vector construction, primers design, protein analysis, flow cytometry, immunohistiochemistry and fluorescence microscopy, use of confocal microscopy, animal experimentation.