Message From the Principal Investigator
I grew up on a farm in a small town in southwest Oklahoma. During my childhood, we had pigs, cattle, horses, goats, sheep, cats, and dogs. I participated in an organization called Future Farmers of America, where I even showed a steer named Duke!
As a college student, I became interested in cancer when two family members (one on each side of the family) experienced the polar opposite outcomes of living with cancer. My uncle died very rapidly from a brain tumor, whereas my great-grandmother received chemotherapy for a lymphoma and lived to be 105 years old. I wanted to understand what cancer is and why treatment is so elusive.
This led me to pursue a PhD in cancer biology at Duke University. There I trained with Dr. Rob Wechsler-Reya and worked on a childhood brain tumor called medulloblastoma. After completing my PhD, I wanted to continue working on mouse models of cancer. I pursued additional training with some of the world’s leaders in genetically-engineered mice. I worked briefly at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with Dr. Terry Van Dyke, and then transferred to MIT to work with Dr. Tyler Jacks in Cambridge, MA.
Through these experiences, I became interested in the problem of chemotherapy resistance. My lab at the Huntsman Cancer Institute integrates a variety of systems, including mouse models of lung cancer, to identify new treatment strategies for lung cancer.