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Dr. Futscher is a professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the College of Pharmacy, and a Co-Director of the Cancer Biology & Genetics Program in the Arizona Cancer Center. In addition to his role in the AZCC, he is also a member of the NIEHS-funded Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center, where he is a member of the Internal Advisory Board. He is the scientific director of the Genomics Shared Service, which derives its support from NIH, NIEHS, and the BIO5 Institute at the UA. Dr. Futscher's longstanding research interest is in the area of cancer epigenetics, with specific interests in the mechanisms of epigenetic dysfunction and the identification and development of epigenetic biomarkers for disease prognostication and epigenetic targets for therapeutic intervention. Dr. Futscher has longstanding collaborative research with AZCC members Dr. Anne Cress (adaptive metastasis), Dr. Jay Gandolfi (arsenical-mediated carcinogenesis), and Dr. Jesse Martinez (p53's role in epigenetic dysfunction) among others.
Understanding epigenetic dysfunction in human cancer has been Dr. Futscher's primary research focus since establishing his own independent laboratory. This epigenetic research has moved into the area of noncoding RNAs and their potential role in cancer cell immortality. His research interest is in the molecular underpinnings of cancer cell immortality is a natural outgrowth of the productive collaborative research between his laboratory and Dr. Martha Stampfer’s laboratory (a co-Investigator on this project), and our 7 collaborative research papers listed below bear testimony to this fact.
Using Dr. Stampfer’s novel, reproducible method of inducing immortality in human mammary epithelial cells, the Futscher lab has identified a specific lncRNA and broader gene ontology that are expressed in normal, finite lifespan cells, but are consistently lost when these cells acquire immortality. We propose 2 specific aims to delineate the role of the specific lncRNA in cell immortality. Taken together, the scientific and technical expertise needed to successfully complete the proposed study on epithelial cell immortalization is in place. We predict that results from these studies will discover new targets and pathways that lead to epithelial cell immortalization - a fundamental aspect of carcinoma development.
Dr. Futscher has provided scientific oversight of the Cancer Center’s Genomics Shared Resource since its inception, and is currently Co-Director of the Resource.