Professor, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine
My cancer related research comes as an extension of my longstanding work in the field of cholesterol and bile acid metabolism. I have been fortunate to be a continually federally funded investigator since 1988 with over 130 original publications. More recently, our work with the intracellular cholesterol transport protein, StarD5, led to seeking collaboration with an oncology colleague after my lab found preliminary evidence of a cancer relationship. More specifically, we had previously determined StarD5 to play a role in the transport of cholesterol from the ER to the plasma membrane, which plays a role in membrane fluidity and cholesterol export. Furthermore, we found StarD5 to be up-regulated under conditions of ER stress. As many consider cancers to exist under an ER stress state, we elected to study the relationship of StarD5 to cancer. Through ongoing joint studies with Dr. Bhaumik Patel, the work has moved forward nicely. Early findings have demonstrated elevated levels of StarD5 in colon cancer and that its knockdown effects colon cancer stem cell growth and sensitivity to existing chemotherapeutic agents.