Dr Catherine Hogan
Location:European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, Cardiff School of Biosciences Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff CF24 4HQ
Epithelial cells communicate and integrate multiple networks of signals through cell-cell interactions, which instruct cells on position, function and fate. Tight control of these processes is required to maintain homeostasis of a tissue. In the early stages of many human cancers, single cells sporadically acquire genetic mutations and become transformed. My research focuses on understanding how transformed cells expand to form precursor lesions within an environment of tightly regulated growth control and homeostasis, events that are poorly understood. I am particularly interested in the initial stages of human epithelial cancers where Ras mutations are one of the earliest events, such as pancreatic cancer. Using a combination of in vitro epithelial cell culture systems and in vivo mouse models, my research will explore the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying how Ras-transformed and normal epithelial cells interact and communicate. I will also determine whether these cell-cell interactions promote or prevent expansion of the transformed cells. This may generate new and innovative insights into the early stages of epithelial cancers and advance the development of early detection, diagnostic and preventative strategies.