Sandra Ryeom, Ph.D.
Division of Surgical Sciences in Surgery, CUIMC
Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs and New Master’s Degree Programs
Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, CUIMC
630 W. 168th Street,
P&S 17-409, NY, NY 10032
There are three main areas of research in my lab:
- Endothelial cells and stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment and calcineurin-NFAT signaling;
- Organ specific vasculature in malignant, benign disease and stem cell niches;
- Gastric cancer initiation, progression and early detection;
Tumor Microenvironment: My lab has been investigating the role of the vasculature and stromal cells in promoting tumor progression and metastasis. Using mouse models of cancer, primary endothelial cells and fibroblasts and molecular and cell biological approaches, we have been investigating the contributions of the calcineurin-NFAT signaling pathway towards activation of the vascular endothelium and stromal cells during tumor angiogenesis leading to tumor progression and metastasis. Calcineurin is a calcium regulated ser/thr phosphatase that dephosphorylates the NFAT transcription factor family, triggering their nuclear entry and transactivation of cell specific targets. We have shown the critical importance of the calcineurin-NFAT pathway as an intracellular mediator of endothelial cells during pathologic angiogenesis with its physiological relevance demonstrated by individuals with Down syndrome who are protected against solid tumors due in part to chromosome 21 encoded inhibitors of the calcineurin-NFAT pathway attenuating tumor angiogenesis. My lab is investigating cross-talk between stromal cells and endothelial cells in early metastatic sites and defining the contribution of calcineurin-NFAT targets in these cells towards metastatic progression.
Organ Specific Vasculature: For many years, it has been assumed that endothelial cells from different organs were similar in their activation, regulation and output of secreted factors during tumor growth and metastasis. We now know that endothelial cells from different organ environments are unique and produce organ specific secretomes after activation that have implications for metastatic organotropism as well as stem cell niches (ie. lung stem cells and spermatogonial stem cells).
Gastric Cancer: My lab also has been investigating gastric cancer initiation, progression and metastatic dissemination using mouse models and gastric organoids. We generated one of the first mouse models of gastric cancer that metastasizes to the liver and lung in a rapid time frame and with both diffuse and intestinal lesions recapitulating gastric cancer progression in patients. We are using mouse models and patient samples to identify biomarkers of early detection and to understand the pathways driving peritoneal, liver and lung metastases.
Bang-Jin Kim, PhD (Associate Research Scientist)
Wellesley College, A.B. (Physics)
Weill Cornell Medical College, Ph.D. (Cell Biology & Genetics)
Harvard Medical School, Post-doctoral Fellowship (Cell Biology)