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GeorgeBlanck

George Blanck, Ph.D.

Professor, COLLEGE OF MEDICINE MOLECULAR MEDICINE
  • genomics and bioinformatics based analysis of gene expression and cancer; vaccine development and immunotherapeutics
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ShellyDeforte

Shelly Deforte

Graduate Research Assistant, COLLEGE OF MEDICINE MOLECULAR MEDICINE
  • We study the structural and un-structural biology of proteins from an amino acid sequence based perspective. Both experimental evidence of intrinsically disordered regions in proteins, as well as computationally predicted regions of disorder, are used to study patterns in complete proteomes using bioinformatics approaches. Intrinsically disordered regions display different amino acid compositions, and different amino acid patterns than do structured regions. Furthermore, the distribution of intrinsic disorder throughout a protein deviates distinctively from random. Using innovative methods that exploit the unique properties of disordered regions, we are looking for subtle biomarkers of function and dysfunction within large bodies of protein sequence data. Currently, we are pursuing the role of disordered regions in enzyme function, and examining the unique properties of proteins associated with aging.
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Post Docs

  • My current research focuses on understanding the role of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) in pancreatic cancer. It is well known that pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis and very low 5-year survival rates. Early detection poses a challenge mainly owing to the location of this organ and a non-symptomatic progression. At the molecular level, the oncogene RAS is known to be mutated and overexpressed in this cancer and the signaling pathways are somewhat understood. Using several pancreatic cancer cells lines, our recent findings show that APP is overexpressed in most pancreatic cancer cells lines as well. Preliminary studies have shown that APP can regulate RAS transcription levels and knock down of APP can inhibit RAS protein expression. Using this information, my project aims to understand the mechanism of regulation of RAS by APP and to establish APP, its processed fragments, and associated signaling pathways as possible targets for drug development against pancreatic cancer.
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