E50801 - Hematology and Oncology

Mentor:  Dr. Phillip Buckhaults, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology & Oncology, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1824 6th Avenue South, WTI 510D, Birmingham, AL 35294-3300. Telephone:  (205) 975-3960; Email: phillip.buckhaults@gmail.com

Lab Introduction: The Cancer Genetics Lab has recently relocated to The Comprehensive Cancer Center at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, and we are actively recruiting talented, ambitious, smart, creative and motivated scientists to study genetic mechanisms that predispose African Americans to early-onset breast and colon cancer. If you are interested in genetics, genomics, epigenetics, stem cells, aging and cancer, send me an email at phillip.buckhaults@gmail.com, or stop by my office (WTI 510D) for an informal visit and scientific discussion.

Project Description: African Americans are diagnosed with breast and colon cancer at young ages more frequently than are European Americans, however, the reasons are not clear. Germline sequence variations in p53 pathway genes that are unequally distributed between people of African and European ancestry may influence the rate at which cancer-causing somatic mutations develop. We seek to functionally characterize single nucleotide polymorphisms in the TP53 and MDM2 genes, to determine how they may contribute to early-onset breast and colon cancer in African Americans. To characterize the unique somatic mutation landscapes of colon and breast cancers that develop from these different genetic backgrounds, our group uses next-gen sequencing approaches to identify novel germline variants that correlate with ethnic ancestry and age of diagnosis. To better understand the interplay between germline variants (SNPS) and cancer phenotype caused by somatic mutations, we use somatic cell knockout technology to create isogenic pairs of cell lines differing only in the polymorphic loci of interest and then biochemically and phenotypically characterize the resulting derivatives. The approach has lead to important discoveries about how a common germline variant in p53 (Pro72Arg) causes profound differences in cancer risk and longevity in humans, and points to novel therapeutic intervention strategies. Our project on African American cancer health disparities will further evaluate the germline and somatic mutation landscapes of breast and colon cancers, to uncover additional genetic differences that are associated with age of diagnosis, and functionally characterize variant alleles to establish their mechanisms of action.

Postdocs in UAB News

  • Stephen Carter will attend the Experimental Biology Conference in late March to receive his award.Stephen J. Carter, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Human Studies and the Nutrition Obesity Research Center, has been awarded the American Physiological Society’s Environmental and Exercise Physiology (EEP) section Partnership for Clean Competition New Investigator Award. The award recognizes outstanding experimental research in environmental, exercise or thermal physiology by a postdoctoral fellow involving ergogenics and detection...

  • Poster sessions and guest lecturers celebrate Darwin’s legacy.To honor the 206th birthday of legendary evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin, the University of Alabama at Birmingham will host Darwin Day on Thursday, Feb. 12, and Friday, Feb. 13. The events will celebrate scientific research in evolutionary biology and other disciplines. “Charles Darwin’s great discovery, the principle of natural selection, is more relevant to science than ever before,” said Steven Austad, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biology. “For...

UAB Research News

  • Leadership UAB Class of 2015 has been announced.The University of Alabama at Birmingham has announced its 2015 Leadership UAB class. These dynamic business and community leaders were nominated by leaders in their respective industries and were selected because of their leadership abilities and community-mindedness. This year’s class represents a cross-section of Birmingham’s corporate, civic and volunteer organizations. At events throughout the year, members will learn about the exciting research, medical, educational and entrepreneurial activities taking place at...

  • Brian Nykanen is a Cadet in the Army ROTC and honors student.Brian Austin Nykanen, a University of Alabama at Birmingham junior neuroscience major and a Cadet in the Army ROTC at UAB, is a finalist for the Truman Scholarship. Nykanen, who has a 3.9 grade-point average in the highly challenging neuroscience program, is a member of the UAB Honors College’s Experiential Learning Scholars Program. This past semester, he was the Reserve Officer Training Corps Battalion Command...