Professor, Eppley Institute
BS - University of Leipzig, Germany, Agriculture
PhD - University of Halle, Germany, Animal Genetics
My research objectives are to elucidate the mechanisms regulating the normal development of the mammary gland and to identify genetic pathways that control the development of breast cancer. Mammary development is a fascinating process that is unique in several aspects: First, proliferation and differentiation of mammary epithelial cells occur primarily postnatally. Second, mammary development is dependent upon the synergistic action of systemic hormones and local growth factors. Third, a full-functionally differentiated mammary gland requires a complex 3-D structure of epithelial and stromal compartments. Fourth, the mammary gland can serve as an excellent in vivo model for cell proliferation, differentiation, genome stability, and programmed cell death as it develops in defined steps during reproductive cycles.
Numerous genes have been identified that are crucial for normal mammary development and breast cancer. Their role is being studied in our research group through their deregulated expression in mammary tissue of transgenic animals and through their deletion from the mouse genome by homologous recombination. Specifically, our laboratory has the expertise to overexpress genes in a temporally and spatially controlled manner using the tet system and to delete genes in a tissue-specific and temporally controlled fashion using the Cre-loxP recombination system. Current projects include the analysis of prolactin signaling through the Jak2-Stat5 pathway, the cloning of a new mammary epithelial population from parous females, and studying the role of the Tsg101 gene during cell cycle regulation and neoplastic transformation.