Overcoming Therapy-Resistant Cancer Cells

Recipient of a National Institutes of Health award to aid the career of a promising cancer-research scientist, breast cancer researcher Jason Herschkowitz arrived at UAlbany in fall 2013 to advance his work at the University’s Cancer Research Center, located on the East Campus.

Breast cancer researcher, Jason Herschkowitz

Herschkowitz was eager to join three leading breast cancer researchers at the Center — Professors Martin Tenniswood, JoEllen Welsh and Douglas Conklin — and also realized  the potential of UAlbany’s RNA Institute to further his investigations into the role of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in the formation of therapy-resistant cancer cells.

Herschkowitz’s work with lncRNAs seeks greater understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate breast cancer stem cells — critical for devising new treatments that selectively target these aggressive and therapy-resistant cancer cells.

Not all genes make proteins for body function. They can create protein-coding RNAs called messenger RNAs and functional non-protein-coding RNAs. lncRNAs have been implicated in the process by which epithelial cells — normally in tissues which line body surfaces or form glands —transition into migratory and invasive cells that can form cancerous tumors.

By exploring how lncRNAs regulate this process, Herschkowitz ultimately seeks to develop mechanisms that will sensitize tumors to conventional therapies.