Corena Shaffer PH/TX’14, who is conducting research in Dr. Catherine Moore's laboratory in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was selected from 1,159 applicants to receive a Research Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic during the summer of 2013 through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) program. SURF fellowships are competitive (top 10 percent) and selective (faculty-driven match process), and include a $5,000 stipend.
Shaffer will be working with Dr. Larry Karnitz, professor of molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, studying DNA repair pathways that are activated in tumor cells when they are exposed to chemotherapy. These pathways enable the tumor cell to "survive" chemotherapy, so there is great interest in understanding how these pathways work, such that they can be blocked by co-administered drugs during chemotherapy.
During her second and third years at USciences, Shaffer has been conducting research in Dr. Catherine Moore's laboratory and has made significant contributions towards identifying the biochemical mechanisms by which abnormal expression of GPCRs in breast cancer cells unmasks a motile and invasive metastatic phenotype. Her work demonstrates a significant alteration in signaling kinetics when GPCRs detect gradients of ligand. She has studied cortactin (invadopodia marker) as well as numerous "motility" kinases, as measured by ELISA, Immunoblot, and Microarray analysis. This semester she continues her research and is generating siRNA-resistant cDNA constructs in order to "rescue" the motility defects observed following siRNA knockdown of the identified signaling components.
Shaffer works as part of a team of researchers in the Moore lab, which includes Jacqueline Freed PhD’13, Anastasia Jancina PhD’14, and Bryce Winant MS’14, all pharmacology/toxicology graduate students. Shaffer recently presented her work at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) national meeting in San Francisco in December 2012, where she was a co-author on two abstracts. This work was also presented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) annual meeting in Boston April 2013, at a GPCR Colloquium featuring the recent 2012 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. A hearty congratulations goes out to Shaffer and the Moore Lab.