April 26, 2012

Cell growth expert Wrana set for Discovery Lecture

Cell growth expert Wrana set for Discovery Lecture

Jeffrey Wrana, Ph.D., internationally known for his research on transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and its role in normal and abnormal cell growth, will deliver the next Discovery Lecture on Thursday, May 3.

Jeffrey Wrana, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Wrana, Ph.D.

Wrana’s lecture, entitled the “Intersection of Polarity and Morphogen Pathways in Development and Cancer,” will begin at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall. The lecture is sponsored by the Departments of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology.

Wrana is professor of Medical Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Toronto and Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

He has been an international scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

TGF-beta was first described and purified in the early 1980s by Harold Moses, M.D., and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic. Since then, Moses, director emeritus of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, has detailed its “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” capacity to suppress or promote tumor growth.

TGF-beta is part of a “superfamily” of proteins called “morphogens” because they influence the movement and organization of cells during development. When these signaling pathways go awry, abnormal cell behavior — and cancer — can result.

Using high-throughput proteomics and genetic tools, Wrana and his colleagues are working out the higher organizational structure of these pathways to better understand how cancer develops and, potentially, to determine the best treatment for individual tumors.

Wrana earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1991 and did postdoctoral work at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He has received several honors, including the 2010 Premier’s Summit Award for Medical Research ($5 million over five years) administered on behalf of the Province of Ontario.

For a complete schedule of the Discovery Lecture series and archived video of previous lectures, go to www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/discoveryseries.