Profile: Scientist, University Health Network
Department: Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto
Lab: Khokha Lab
The complex microenvironment contains distinct entities including the structural extracellular matrix, anchored and soluble growth factors and cytokines, and a variety of immune and inflammatory cells. Signals generated within this space dictate cell fate by influencing cell proliferation, differentiation, motility, and cell death. We aim to understand how proteolysis (MMP/TIMP/ADAM), specific growth factors (IGF-II, HGF, TNF), and tumor suppressors and oncogenes impact these signals in tissue homeostasis and tumorigenesis. We use genetic mouse models of human cancers and disease to study the cellular and molecular basis of breast, liver, lung, and bone cancers, and also investigate the role of proteolytic systems in tissue homeostasis in models of heart disease, inflammation and tissue regeneration. A central hypothesis for our work is that cellular microenvironment converges at the cell surface to trigger intracellular signaling pathways and influence cell fate.