Kemp, Christopher

Faculty Profile

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Primary Institution: 
Human Biology
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Office Phone: 
(206) 667-4252

Research Summary: 

My research program has a long standing interest in using mouse models to address the cellular, molecular, and genetic mechanisms of tumor progression.

Genetics and biology of tumor progression. We use a range of inbred mouse strains as well as genetically engineered mice (GEM) as models to address the genetic basis of cancer.  To address the interaction between environmental exposure and genetic predisposition, which ultimately dictates cancer risk, our laboratory has pioneered the combined use of carcinogen induced cancer models with genetic models of cancer. 

My lab continues to focus on the p53 pathway in tumor suppression.  Collectively, these in vivo mouse model studies implicate oncogene signaling through Arf as the major upstream regulator of p53’s tumor suppressor activity and implicate this signaling pathway in cancer metastasis.  Recently we, in collaboration with Dr. Galina Filippova used mouse models to demonstrate that the DNA binding protein CTCF (CCCTC binding factor) is a haploinsufficient tumor suppressor gene for multiple cancer types.  As mutation or hemizygous loss of CTCF occurs in over 50% of human breast and endometrial cancers, our findings establish a major role for CTCF and epigenetic deregulation in human cancer.   

Mouse models for early detection research.With the realization that mouse models could be more effectively used in translational cancer research, my lab took on a central role in pioneering the use of mouse models in biomarker research for early detection of cancer.  These studies overcame several bottlenecks for proteomic analysis of plasma and identified tumor specific signatures that are currently being tested in human samples for use as early detection biomarkers.

Functional genetics to identify novel cancer drug targets. Targeted therapies represent the future of oncology treatment, yet most cancers still lack effective treatments.  My lab is applying functional genetic siRNA screening approaches to discover and validate new cancer drug targets.  Using arrayed well-based siRNA high throughput screens, we are identifying, genome wide, the entire set of druggable genes that are required for survival of cancer cells that carry defined mutations, but not normal cells.  Through a process of prioritization and validation in preclinical models, we will identify novel, validated targets for drug development.

Short Research Description: 
Genetic analysis of cancer and new therapuetic targets
Areas of Interest: 
Cancer Biology
<p> cancer biology, genetics and epigenetics of cancer, tumor suppressor genes, cancer therapy</p>

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