I earned my BS and PhD at UCLA in the field of tumor biology. Over the last 15 years, I have been working at the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System (GLA-VAHS). During that time, I was a recipient of the prestigious Howard Temin K01 mentored fellowship grant from the National Cancer Institute. This highly competitive award is given to outstanding junior scientists who are committed to developing research programs highly relevant to the understanding and treatment of cancer.
Since 2011, I have been the principle investigator on a VA MERIT grant investigating how targeting angiogenesis and the adaptive hypoxic response in multiple myeloma cells affects tumor growth and survival.
My early publications in the area of tumor resistance established that subtoxic concentrations of chemotherapeutic drugs could sensitize tumor cells to killing by the immune system. We were also one of the first groups to recognize that the sensitivity of myeloma cells to rapamycin (a drug that inhibits protein expression) was linked to the inhibition of angiogenesis and induction of hypoxia in the tumors. This suggested to us that targeting the “resistant” phenotype of tumor cells could form the basis of novel anti-cancer therapies.
Building upon the above studies, and by using mouse models, we have been able to directly show that the induction of hypoxia is correlated to the killing of myeloma tumor cells. The logical next step is to understand what role hypoxia plays in this killing tumor cells and if we can use experimental drugs to target these effects in myeloma cells engrafted in the bone marrow.