Conrad, Susan E.
B.S., 1974, Tufts University
Ph.D., 1979, California Institute of Technology
Postdoctoral Fellow, 1980-1983, University of California, Berkeley
We are investigating the mechanisms by which estrogen and antiestrogens regulate the cell cycle in human breast cancer cells. A majority of primary breast tumors require estrogen to proliferate, and arrest in the G1 phase of the cell cycle in the absence of estrogen or presence of antiestrogens. Because of this, antiestrogens are often used in the treatment of breast cancer patients. We are studying the effects of estrogen/antiestrogens on the activities of proteins that regulate progression from G1 to S phase, such as the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (pRb) and cyclin dependent kinases (cdks). Our long term goal is to identify changes that occur in breast tumor cells as they progress to an antiestrogen resistant phenotype, because the development of antiestrogen resistance causes treatment failure in many breast cancer patients. A second project in the lab is to study the patterns of gene regulation by estrogen in a mouse model of menopause. Estrogen treatment of post-menopausal women offers protection against several diseases including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and possibly Alzheimer's Disease. However, it also increases the risk of uterine and breast cancer. In collaboration with several other labs, we are identifying genes that are regulated by estrogen in various tissues (brain, breast, uterus, bone) in order to characterize the underlying mechanisms for the tissue specific effects of the hormone. A long term goal of this project is to identify alternative pharmacological agents (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) that confer the protective effects of estrogen without the associated risks.
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