Zebrafish are swimming into the scientific world and cancer researchers are riding the wave of zebrafish biology. But why use these aquarium pets to study human cancer? Zebrafish are more similar to us than you might expect! Humans share 70% of our genes with zebrafish, and zebrafish can develop many of the same cancers as humans. To a cancer researcher, zebrafish literally provide a “window” to monitor tumor growth and treatment because their skin is actually see-through! By studying cancer in zebrafish, we can identify genes that promote cancer cell spreading and discover drugs that can block this process. In this talk, Laura will examine zebrafish as a way to study cancer and identify potential novel cancer therapies using chemical genetic screens. She'll also discuss the use of zebrafish melanoma models to test genes that promote cancer cell spreading and describe new opportunities to go fishing for cancer therapies.
Laura received her PhD in Oncological Sciences from the University of Utah while using zebrafish to study mechanisms controlling epithelial morphogenesis during development and cancer progression. As a graduate student researcher, she developed cancer models in zebrafish to define new therapeutic targets and developed drug screens in zebrafish embryos to identify inhibitors of cancer cell invasion. Her research has enabled the translation of experimental drugs in zebrafish into clinical trials to treat cancer in patients. Laura is currently a Postdoctoral fellow at UCLA studying cancer immunology.