The development of cancer is a somatic evolutionary process. Evolving diseases are difficult to treat because they adapt to treatment and because they continually diversify — from so simple a beginning, endless forms evolved. We are integrating evolutionary theory with quantitative experimentation and genomics to better understand and manage cancer.
I am interested in the fields of translational genomics and molecular oncology.
Gianna studied biophysics at Loyola University Chicago and earned her master’s in medical science at Boston University.
Advances in genomic and computational technologies are revolutionizing the study of cancer biology. We believe these advances will make sense only in the light of evolution. Specifically, we believe that evolutionary theory can help answer some of the most enigmatic aspects of tumor biology, including:
Why do most tumors never progress to malignancy?
Why are mutations that drive growth in one tumor maladaptive in another (and why do some combinations of mutations drive carcinogenesis, while others fail)?
Why do most other ‘passenger’ mutations appear to be unaffected by natural selection?
To answer these questions, our lab pursues an interdisciplinary and inter-laboratory approach that combines experiment and theory with the development of new technologies.
Mutations that harm cancer cells accumulate in tumors - despite selective pressures against them - because cancer cells do not genetically recombine and mutate rapidly. These mutations cause proteotoxic stress that can be clinically targeted.
To study the genomic complexity of lung cancers and model tumor growth from initiation, we developed a new technology. We’re now using this technology to mathematically-describe the heterogeneity of tumor growth and identify pharmacogenomic interactions in vivo.
Scientists of all academic levels are encouraged to apply. All students and researchers must be team players, demonstrate scientific curiosity and self-motivation, and articulate a scientific vision that aligns with the lab’s goals. Both life & physical scientists; MD & PhD students; and wet- and dry-lab specialists are encouraged to apply.
Everyone in the Cancer Evolution group is committed to fostering a better living and learning environment. We value equity and inclusion, and celebrate diversity in all forms.