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

  • UAB School of Public Health research published in the journal Obesity shows seeing, hearing and smelling others’ eating foods can cause low birthweight in offspring among mice.While studies have shown that what a mother eats during pregnancy can affect her offspring, it could be that what she sees others eating can also affect her offspring. New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health explores the influence it has in a...

  • Early palliative care offers statistically beneficial effects on patient survival and family caregiver burden, according to articles published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.Two papers recently published by University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing researchers in the Journal of Clinical Oncology highlight the need for a “culture shift” by clinicians and the general public to engage palliative care services long before a person reaches the final stage of life. Two articles reporting on 207...

UAB Research News

  • Money raised from the annual fundraiser goes toward research and scholarships in the SOO.The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry is hosting its annual Dean’s Community Advisory Committee golf tournament to benefit scholarships, research and renovations for the school at 11 a.m. Monday, April 27, at the Inverness Country Club, 1 Country Club Drive. This tournament has raised enough money to endow a $100,000 research fund and three $25,000 scholarships. Cost to participate for teams...

  • UAB will receive funding from the AHA over the next four years to complete projects in population health, clinical and basic science, focused on high blood pressure.The University of Alabama at Birmingham is one of four institutions selected to study high blood pressure as part of the American Heart Association’s new Strategically Focused Research Network on hypertension. The AHA will support the Strategically Focused Research Network on hypertension with an investment of $15 million over four years,...