Mechanisms of sarcomagenesis; senescence; modeling cancer from primary human cells.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood and adolescence. Despite international cooperative group clinical trials, survival for high risk groups remains less than 30% at 5 years. Our research group seeks to identify the molecular underpinnings for this poor survival, and exploit these findings to design new treatments. Current research themes including modeling RMS from non-malignant primary cells, understanding how developmental pathways including Notch and Wnt are hijacked to support RMS tumor initiation and maintenance, understanding how the PAX3-FOXO1 fusion protein in RMS enables bypass of senescence, and the role of the recently described Hippo organ size control pathway in RMS.