July 7, 2014

New Director of Cancer Animal Models Core

Photo of New Director of Cancer Animal Models Core

The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University announces the appointment of Melissa Gilbert-Ross, PhD, as the new Director for the Cancer Animal Models Shared Resource program.

The Cancer Animal Models facility assists investigators in developing and analyzing appropriate animal models for cancer research, and as such it plays an important role in translating research discoveries into potential treatments. Currently, the major emphasis and expertise of the facility lies in genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM). Gilbert-Ross plans to build on that strength.

"The adaptation of genomic engineering and in vivo mosaic analysis to genetically engineered mouse models has set the stage for a revolution in personalized pre-clinical trials," says Gilbert-Ross.

Animal models provide a critical link between pre-clinical research and testing in humans. Some of Winship’s most promising discoveries are in the development of therapies that target tumor mutations, an area where GEMM play a significant role.

"As the new director of this important shared resource, Dr. Gilbert-Ross brings her expertise and considerable experience in several important animal models including mouse and Drosophila (flies)," says Paul Doetsch, PhD, associate director for basic research at Winship. "As the core matures, we expect its services and capabilities to facilitate an increasing number of projects for Winship investigators. We are lucky to have been able to recruit such an outstanding young scientist to lead this unit."

Melissa Gilbert-Ross received her bachelor’s degree in Genetics from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, and her PhD in Genetics from Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. She then went on to complete a productive postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cell Biology in the Emory University School of Medicine that focused on the link between epithelial cell polarity and growth control using Drosophila melanogaster tumor suppressor models. Dr. Gilbert-Ross’ postdoctoral work resulted in multiple first-author publications, two competitive Clinical LRP awards and a Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA.

In 2012, Dr. Gilbert-Ross joined Winship’s Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, and has collaborated with Drs. Wei Zhou and Adam Marcus to redevelop a mutant Kras, Lkb1 genetically engineered mouse model of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Currently, the Kras, Lkb1 GEMM is being used in pre-clinical studies to test anti-metastatic therapies. In 2013, Dr. Gilbert-Ross was awarded an Emory University Research Committee (URC) grant to develop an independent research program that uses a combination of Drosophila and mouse genetics to elucidate how LKB1 mutations drive metastasis in vivo.

The Cancer Animal Models Shared Resource of Winship is a core facility supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Core facilities are centralized shared research resources that provide access to instruments, technologies, services, as well as expert consultation and other services to scientific and clinical investigators.

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