Program: Molecular Genetics and Genomics
Current advisor: Sid Puram, MD, PhD
Undergraduate university: Princeton University
Amplification of TP63, encoding the p53-family transcription factor p63, is one of the most frequent genetic alterations in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), including those of the head and neck (HNSCC). Yet, its precise role in these cancers is incompletely understood, hindering meaningful progress in treating SCC patients. Our understanding of p63 is complicated by the various splicing variants derived from the TP63 gene. The N-terminally truncated ∆Np63 isoform is an oncogene and is dramatically overexpressed in most HNSCC tumors, while conversely, the full-length isoform TAp63 has been shown to function as a tumor suppressor and is expressed at low levels in HNSCC. It remains unclear how these two isoforms regulate distinct transcriptional programs in HNSCC. My research aims to elucidate the p63 transcriptional pathways driving oncogenesis and tumor suppression in HNSCC and uncover promising targets for new cancer therapies.