Fall 2012 John H. Tietze Young Scientist Awards

The John H. Tietze Stem Cell Scientist Award is a one year award of $25,000 to support the research of any FACULTY member of ISCRM who is pursuing novel preliminary experiments, where the grant might provide sufficient stimulus to enable the research to advance to the point of being competitive for external funding. The research should involve or be relevant to some aspect of stem or progenitor cell biology or therapies.

Morayma Reyes, MD, PhD

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology
University of Washington School of Medicine

Reyes Abstract:
Evidence for a stem cell origin for most solid tissue and hematopoietic cancer has been accumulating for a number of years. The existence of a cancer stem cell (CSC) has been demonstrated for certain leukemias, germ line tissues and a number of solid tumors. Although a putative human salivary gland cancer stem cell is yet to be discovered, the heterogeneous nature of salivary gland tumors indicate that they may originate from a primitive cell line capable of generating all the lineages characteristic of the salivary gland tumor.

Despite the wide spreadfocus on CSCs in other tissues, very little progress has been made towards detecting and characterizing CSCs in human salivary gland tumors. This proposal aims to demonstrate that CSCs occur in mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC) of salivary glands, and to characterize their gene expression profiles in order to begin developing basic knowledge of CSCs in various salivary gland tumors. MEC tumors, the most common malignant salivary gland neoplasm, contain a variable mixture of mucous, epidermoid (squamous), intermediate, columnar, clear and occasionally, oncocytic cells. MEC represents 30% of all malignant epithelial tumors, and is second in frequency only to the ubiquitous mixed tumor (pleomorphic adenoma). Establishing the molecular characteristics of the CSC in MEC will generate new information about the etiologies of MEC in salivary glands, which will lead to new treatment protocols with potentially greater effectiveness.