Contact Information
Phone: 319-335-6832
4219 Medical Education Research Facility

Our goal is to understand how tumor initiates and progresses to metastatic disease using breast cancer as a model system. Normal virgin mammary ducts consist of two cell layers, with basal layer cells including myoepithelial cells and mammary stem cells and luminal layer containing luminal progenitors and mature luminal cells. We recently identified that both basal cells and luminal progenitors (referred to as basal TIC and luminal TIC, respectively) bear the ability to initiate ErbB2-induced mammary tumorigenesis in mouse. Interestingly human ERBB2+ breast cancer can be also separated into two groups, with one group having luminal signatures and the other more close to basal type of breast cancer. Our current focuses are 1. to examine the impact of different TICs on progression, metastasis and drug resistance of breast cancer; 2. to explore molecules and signaling pathways that may differentially contribute to basal or luminal TIC-formed tumors; and 3. to identify the role of micro-environmental and dietary factors, including obesity-associated inflammation, different lineages of immune cells, or fibroblasts in mammary tumor initiation and progression.

Left to right: Nick Borcherding, Qing Xie, Weizhou Zhang, Yinghong Liu, Ryan Kolb