Hamid Band, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Breast Cancer Research
Associate Director of Education and Training
E-mail: hband@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  Dr. Hamid Band’s laboratory focuses on the regulation of tyrosine kinase-mediated cell signaling with the long-term goal of developing targeted therapeutics and early diagnostic/prognostic markers for cancer.  Basic studies are aimed at understanding fundamental cellular processes associated with receptor tyrosine kinases.  Given the importance of controlling the intensity of tyrosine kinase coupled receptors to ensure an appropriate level of cellular activity, and the dramatic consequences of aberrant tyrosine kinase activity, our basic studies carry far-reaching implications for understanding and possibly manipulating human cancer and at translating these lessons into clinical practice to develop targeted therapies against cancer.   In addition, our collaborative work with colleagues at UNMC is aimed at arming a variety of nanostructures with targeting moieties for imaging of tumors as well as to selectively deliver toxic anticancer agents directly to tumors in order to reduce toxicity to healthy tissues.

For more information on Dr. H. Band: Web Site

Gloria Borgstahl, Ph.D.
E-mail: gborgstahl@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  In order for cells to grow, they need to duplicate their DNA.  Our laboratory is interested in studying the proteins essential to the maintenance and replication of DNA.  Survival and normal growth of cells rely on the basic processes of DNA metabolism.  This is accomplished by determining the structures of these proteins by X-ray crystallography and using computer models of protein structure to help predict their structures and function.

For more information on Dr. Borgstahl: Web Site


Robert Lewis, Ph.D.
E-mail: rlewis@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  Cells have important intracellular mechanisms for regulating cell growth and development.  We are interested in determining what molecules are involved in this and how they interact to control cellular growth and gene expression.  We are using molecular biology and biochemical techniques and mutant mouse models to study cell signaling mechanisms and how they function.

For more information on Dr. Lewis: Web Site

Amar Natarajan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
E-mail: anatarajan@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  Phosphorylation and de-phosphorylation reactions of cellular proteins are ubiquitous in nature and represent the molecular on/off switch that triggers innumerable signaling events mediated by phospho-specific protein-protein interactions. Our research interest focuses on the use of small molecules to perturb these phospho-specific protein-protein interactions as a first step towards understanding how cells exploit these interactions in signal transduction. Chemical probes for this effort are derived from natural products and the design of conformationally constrained mimics. Synthetic chemistry spearheads the research program, however, biology and computational methods are used synergistically in our quest for a better comprehension of the cellular events contiguous to phospho-specific protein-protein interactions.

For more information on Dr. Natarajan: Web Site

Michel Ouellette, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
E-mail: mouellet@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  My laboratory is focused on two separate aspects of cancer research: telomere biology and pancreatic cancer. A common theme is the enzyme telomerase, its role in cancer development and tissue homeostasis. Telomerase is responsible for the maintenance of telomeres, specialized structures that cap the ends of chromosomes. Because most human cells lack telomerase, telomeres shorten each time cells divide and this attrition acts as a clock that limits their lifespan. This limited lifespan is almost always bypassed during cancer development, most frequently by the aberrant expression of telomerase. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms that control the lifespan of human cells, and in particular the means by which cells measure the size of their telomeres. In a related project, we are testing telomerase inhibitors for the treatment of cancers, with special attention to pancreatic cancer. 

For more information on Dr. Ouellette: Web Site

Youri Pavlov, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
E-mail: ypavlov@unmc.edu

Research Interests:  The hallmark of biological systems is heredity, the ability to reproduce their properties in generations. It is based on templated reduplication of nucleic acids containing species-specific information. Heredity is made possible due to coordinated action of specialized protein machinery. Most organisms and cells need accurate reproduction to fulfill their biological duties, however in some, like for HIV viruses or B-cells, inaccurate reproduction is beneficial. The knowledge of atomic structure of the proteins and complexes of proteins with nucleic acids, maintaining the heredity, allows the unparalleled power of genetic analysis, disease prevention and gene therapy.  We study the molecular basis of evolutionary strategies of heredity used by wide range of organisms, from viruses to humans.

For more information on Dr. Pavlov: Web Site

Joyce Solheim, Ph.D.
Program Director and Professor
E-mail: jsolheim@unmc.edu 

Research Interests:  In order for the cells of the immune system to develop a response to an antigen, they must interact with and process the antigen.  This involves proteolytic cleavage of the antigen and its reaction with cellular proteins that will help the development of the immune response.  We are studying how this interaction occurs with the goal to better understand the development of the immune response in response to antigen.  This work will add to our understanding of many immune system-related diseases and also to help in the process of developing new treatments of cancer.

For more information on Dr. Solheim: Web Site