Molecular Mechanisms of Therapy Resistance in Brain Cancers

Thursday, April 12, 2018


SEM Conference Hall (Eski İşletme Amfisi)


Asst. Prof. Tuğba Bağcı Önder

Koç University, School of Medicine

Head, Brain Cancer Research and Therapy Laboratory

Dr. Tuğba Bağcı Önder graduated from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Bilkent University in 2002. She then earned her Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience at Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University in 2008. She pursued her postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical on the development of tumor-specific pro-apoptotic therapies in animal models of brain cancer. In 2012, she joined Koç University School of Medicine as an assistant professor and established the Brain Cancer Research and Therapy Laboratory. Her research group is currently working on the understanding of epigenetic regulation of cell death, therapy resistance, and migration in brain cancers. Her work is supported by FP7 Programme-Marie Curie Career Integration Grant, TÜBİTAK, and the American Hospital. Dr. Bağcı Önder is also a recipient of Barbara Talamo Trainee (2008), UNESCO-L’oreal Women in Science (2013) and BAGEP (2014) awards.



Emerging evidence suggests that therapy resistance in cancers is associated with aberrant expression of the key components of the apoptotic program. However, how these components are regulated at an epigenetic level is not understood. In our lab, we aim to identify novel epigenetic mechanisms regulating the response of malignant brain cancers, such as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) and Medulloblastoma, to therapeutic agents, such as TRAIL, Temozolomide and Vincristine. To this end, we are conducting short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) and CRISPR/Cas9 based loss-of-function screens that interrogate the roles of chromatin modifiers, such as DNA-methyltransferases (DNMTs), Histone-Methyltransferases (HMTs), Histone demethylases (HDMs), Histone Deacatylases (HDACs), Methyl-DNA binding proteins, and Polycomb complex members (PrC). In addition, we are utilizing specific chemical libraries directed against select enzymes.

In this seminar, we will talk about our current approaches and highlight the roles of our recently identified chromatin modifiers such as KDM2B and others, with novel roles in brain cancers. Our research on identifying the epigenetic regulators of therapy response might provide a new understanding of therapy resistance and aid in the design of successful therapies for malignant brain cancers.

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