The main focus of research in the Gatza laboratory is to investigate oncogenic mechanisms driving breast and ovarian tumor development, progression, and response to therapy. Human cancers, including breast cancer and ovarian cancer, are not a single disease. This is true both clinically where different subsets of patients respond differently to specific therapies, and at a molecular level where tumorigenesis is driven by a combination of inherited and acquired genetic alterations resulting in a complex and heterogeneous disease. The ability to dissect this heterogeneity is critical to understand the relevance of these alterations for disease phenotypes and also to enable the development of rational therapeutic strategies that can match the characteristics of the individual patient’s tumor. We are interested in understanding the genomic alterations that drive oncogenic pathway activity and therapeutic sensitivity or resistance in human cancers, and in particular, identifying those essential alterations that may represent therapeutic opportunities for personalized cancer treatment.
To address these questions, we use a number of experimental approaches including RNA sequencing (RNAseq), gene expression microarrays, DNA whole exome sequencing, DNA copy number analysis, proteomics, cell / tissue culture, and xenograft mouse models. Thus our research utilizes a combination of genomics and computational strategies to interrogate data from human patient samples coupled with experimental genetic models to replicate human tumor alterations in order to investigate mechanisms of disease both in vitro and in vivo.
I am actively seeking new undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral or medical fellows with an interest in both experimental and computational research.