We welcome our next speaker, Dr. Arjun Raj, from the University of Pennsylvania where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering.
Time Machines, CRISPR Screens, and Therapy Resistance in Cancer
Abstract: Cancer is a disease that originates from single cells, and the treatment of cancer also is a problem of single cells: anti-cancer therapies can often kill the vast majority of tumor cells but a few rare cells remain and grow despite treatment. Often, it is thought that the underlying basis for the behavior of these rare cells is a genetic difference. However, we and others have shown that non-genetic differences may be a key driver of rare, drug resistant cells, yet the precise molecular nature of these differences often remains mysterious. We here describe the development of a cellular “time machine” that allows us to link the ultimate cellular fate to the initial cellular state on a single cell basis, thus revealing markers for pre-resistant cells in the population. Further, we use genetic screening technologies to elucidate the pathways that control the formation of these rare cells and discuss their therapeutic implications.
Bio: Arjun Raj went to UC Berkeley, where he majored in math and physics, earned his PhD in math from the Courant Institute at NYU, and did his postdoctoral training at MIT before joining the faculty in Penn Bioengineering in 2010, where he is currently an associate professor. His research focus is on the developed experimental techniques for making highly quantitative measurements in single cells and models for linking those measurements to cellular function. His ultimate goal is to achieve a quantitative understanding of the molecular underpinnings of cellular behavior.