Campbell Family Associate Professor of Cancer Research, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Notre Dame
Tumor/stroma interaction in mammary gland development and breast cancer progression
Littlepage’s research program is focused on the contributions of the epithelium and surrounding stroma/microenvironment to both cancer progression and normal mammary gland development.
She has focused on three major projects:
- The transcription factor/oncogene Znf217 that promotes a progenitor cell phenotype, metastasis and chemoresistance during breast cancer progression
- MMP3/Stromelysin-1 promotion of progenitor expansion, genomic instability, DNA damage, and centrosome amplification during mammary tumor progression
- Matrix metalloproteinases that contribute distinct roles in neuroendocrine prostate carcinogenesis, metastasis, and angiogenesis progression.
Overall, her research is grounded in understanding the mechanisms of cancer progression and in identifying therapies that prevent or reverse cancer in patients. She develops and uses integrated mouse models and genome-wide association studies to understand the contributions of specific genes in vivo at multiple points in cancer progression, spanning from normal mammary development to tumor progression and metastasis and chemotherapy resistance.
She uses a combination of mouse and human xenograft in vivo models, cell culture and organotypic cultures, and systems biology approaches to study biomarkers of epithelial plasticity and to determine how these genes drive aberrations in fundamental biological processes, e.g., differentiation state, progenitor cell maintenance, metabolism, and genomic integrity.
She also is identifying targeted therapies appropriate for personalized treatment of cancer patients based on these biomarkers.
Littlepage held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, in the Z. Werb lab. Her doctorate in Cell & Developmental Biology is from Harvard. She holds a bachelor of science degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from the University of Texas.