• Title Graduate student—Varelas lab
  • Education BS, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Office K621-Varelas lab
  • Phone (617) 358-4576
  • Area of Interest Hippo Pathway
    Breast Cancer

I am a graduate student in the Varelas laboratory studying the topics of mammary cell biology and breast cancer. Broadly, my research seeks to understand molecular pathways driving cell plasticity, tumor growth, and invasion in basal-like breast cancer, an aggressive breast cancer subtype associated with high mortality. I am particularly interested in the roles of the Hippo pathway and its downstream effectors YAP and TAZ in this context. I study these questions using a variety of in vivo mouse models and ex vivo primary cell culture models.

Prior to beginning my PhD, I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Biology and a Certificate in Global Health. During this time I performed research in the areas of head & neck cancer and lung cancer, and also spent time in a diagnostic oncology laboratory. These experiences inspired me to pursue a graduate degree and career in research. After my undergraduate studies I entered the PiBS program at Boston University, where I ultimately joined the Department of Biochemistry as a member of Dr. Varelas’ lab. Here, I have built upon my background in cancer biology by learning and applying a number of cell biology, genomics, and biochemistry techniques to answer questions related to mammary cell biology and breast cancer progression. Throughout my time at Boston University I have been grateful for the support of Dr. Varelas and the members of the Varelas lab, the tremendous faculty and students in the Biochemistry department and BUSM as a whole, and funding from a Ruth L. Kirschstein F31 fellowship to support my research. I hope to one day enter a career as an independent investigator to continue studying questions aiming to improve the lives of patients with breast cancer and other related diseases.

Publications

Kern JG, Varelas X. TAZ forces lateral inhibition. Dev Cell. 2019 Mar 25;48(6):748-750. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2019.03.006. PMID: 30913406

Kartha VK, Sebastiani P, Kern JG, Zhang L, Varelas X, Monti S. Front Genet. 2019 Feb 19;10:121. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00121. PMID: 30838036

Anderson NM, Mucka P, Kern JG, Feng H. The emerging role and targetability of the TCA cycle in cancer. Protein Cell. Feb;9(2):216-237. doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0451-1. PMID: 28748451

Werner LR, Kler JS, Gressett MM, Riegert M, Werner LK, Heinze CM, Kern JG, Abbariki M, Erbe AK, Patel RB, Sriramaneni RN, Harari PM, Morris ZS. Radiother Oncol. 2017 Sep;124(3):418-426. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2017.08.016. PMID: 28893414

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