Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3
Our research focuses on the biology of melanocytes, the cells that pigment the skin, eyes, and hair. One major emphasis of the lab is the study of uveal melanoma, the most common intraocular cancer. Uveal melanoma has no effective treatment options in metastatic cases. With our colleagues, we identified the first oncogenes that drive uveal melanoma formation in people: GNAQ and GNA11. These two closely related G proteins are mutated in a mutually exclusive pattern in most uveal melanoma cases. Our lab has also engineered the first GNAQ mouse knock-in, which develops metastatic uveal melanoma. This mouse model and human melanoma samples are currently being used to investigate the signaling pathways and possible therapeutic targets downstream of oncogenic GNAQ, with the goal of improving the outcome of uveal melanoma in humans.