Dr. Cress is a Professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Deputy Dean for Research and Academic Affairs at the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include investigating the regulation of cell surface molecules called integrins and defective cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix in disease processes and tissue damage responses. The practical application of the work has resulted in several patent awards on new anti-adhesion peptides that are currently being tested for their ability to prevent cancer metastasis and to sensitize cancer to currently available therapies. Dr. Cress has a 25-year history of contributing to interdisciplinary research through the publication of more than 100 original research articles. Her national service includes permanent membership on scientific study sections including those organized by NIH, the Department of Defense and the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Cress's lab is dedicated to elucidating the molecular mechanisms of human cancer progression and metastasis. Specifically, the Cress lab studies the regulation of cell surface molecules (called integrins) and their role in cancer cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix. Among their many contributions, the Cress research team discovered that laminin adhesion structures are dramatically altered in human cancer resulting in invasion, metastasis, and drug resistance. Additionally, her lab has shown that the laminin binding integrins, (A6B1, A3B1, and A6B4 integrin) can be targeted to prevent cancer progression and metastasis by inducing dormant disease. Dr. Cress and her team have contributed many publications in this area and developed three approaches to interrupt cell adhesion to laminin: (1) using cyclized peptides, (2) deploying small molecules, and/or (3) using a function-blocking antibody.
Dr. Cress spent a sabbatical period working at a drug development and design institute in Australia to screen and design peptide ligand mimetics. In a second sabbatical, she worked at the Netherlands Cancer Institute to screen for anti-integrin antibodies in the laboratory of Dr. Arnoud Sonnenberg, who discovered the A6B4 integrin and continues to work on its regulation. As both an educator and researcher, her work is characterized by a team-based approach using experts in human oncology, cell biology, biochemistry, and pharmacology to propose and test innovative solutions to address unmet clinical needs.
- Combined micro CT and histopathology for evaluation of skeletal metastasis in live animals.Geffre CP, Pond E, Pond GD, Sroka IC, Gard JM, Skovan BA, Meek WE, Landowski TH, Nagle RB, Cress AE. Am J Transl Res. 2015, in press (accepted 1/5/15)
- Gemcitabine resistant pancreatic cancer cell lines acquire an invasive phenotype with collateral hypersensitivity to histone deacetylase inhibitors. Samulitis BK, Pond K, Pond E, Cress AE, Patel H, Wisner L, Patel C, Dorr RT, Landowski TH. Cancer Biol Ther. 2014 Dec 8:0. [Epub ahead of print] PMID 25485960
- Intracellular modifiers of integrin alpha 6p production in aggressive prostate and breast cancer cell lines.Kacsinta AD, Rubenstein CS, Sroka IC, Pawar S, Gard JM, Nagle RB, Cress AE. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014 Nov 14;454(2):335-40. Epub 2014 Oct 22. PMID 25450398
- Targeting integrin α6 stimulates curative-type bone metastasis lesions in a xenograft model.Landowski TH, Gard J, Pond E, Pond GD, Nagle RB, Geffre CP, Cress AE. Mol Cancer Ther. 2014 Jun;13(6):1558-66. Epub 2014 Apr 16. PMID 24739392
- Macrophage-dependent cleavage of the laminin receptor α6β1 in prostate cancer.Sroka IC, Sandoval CP, Chopra H, Gard JM, Pawar SC, Cress AE. Mol Cancer Res. 2011 Oct;9(10):1319-28. Epub 2011 Aug 8. PMID:21824975
- Inhibition of p38-MAPK signaling pathway attenuates breast cancer induced bone pain and disease progression in a murine model of cancer-induced bone pain.Sukhtankar D, Okun A, Chandramouli A, Nelson MA, Vanderah TW, Cress AE, Porreca F, King T. Mol Pain. 2011 Oct 20;7:81. PMID 22014040
- Schwann cells increase prostate and pancreatic tumor cell invasion on laminin. SrokaIC, Chopra H, Das L, Gard JMC, NagleRB, Cress AE. J Cell Physiology, submitted under review, 2015.
Arizona Health Sciences Center Founder’s Day Award, University of Arizona, 2005
Elkin Award for Cancer Biology Research, Emory University, 2005
Sydney E. Salmon Award, Senior Investigator, Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, 2008