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Cellular metabolism in cancer metastasis

Primary Investigators:
Cynthia Reinhart-King
Jenna Mosier
Brief Description of Project:
Cancer cell heterogeneity is an emerging hallmark of cancer that is known to affect cell phenotype and metastatic progression. Specifically, metabolic heterogeneity is thought to fuel different processes in the metastatic cascade. Cellular response to mechanical cues, for example, may be dictated by the metabolic phenotype. We propose that sorting cells based on metabolism, namely their energy utilization levels, will result in two phenotypically different populations with different migratory ability and metastatic potential. Cells will be sorted based on their ability to utilize ATP, the main source of energy for cells, and the resulting subpopulations will be thoroughly characterized. This project will investigate the role of bioenergetics and cell metabolism in cancer cell behavior and migratory ability.

Desired Qualifications:
Highly motivated students interested in research with some background in general biology. Wet laboratory skills, some experience with cell culture techniques, and familiarity with ImageJ, are beneficial but not required.
Nature of Supervision:
Weekly lab group meetings and biweekly individual meeting with PI. Day-to-day supervision and mentoring will be provided by a graduate student in the lab.
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
Students will be involved in culturing and imaging breast cancer cells in 2D and 3D substrates. A multitude of methods will be used to characterize cell populations. Microscopic images will be analyzed in an automated or semi-automated manner to identify the relationship between ATP energy and cell migration. Collagen micromolding will be used to measure cell migration ability in a novel, 3D microtrack platform. Seahorse XF will be used to assess metabolic profiles of cells in 2D and 3D systems.
Number of Open Slots: 1
Contact Information:
Name: Cynthia Reinhart-King
Department: Biomedical Engineering