Hello! My name is Michael Stewart. I’m a PhD student in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Western University, working in Dr. Dale Laird’s laboratory.
The Laird laboratory focuses on communication between cells, specifically through specialized channels known as gap junctions. Gap junction proteins are critical in the development and function of many organs.
Due to their importance in maintaining normal cellular homeostasis, it’s no surprise that gap junction proteins are frequently lost early in breast cancer onset; however, their role in the progression of the disease, particularly during metastasis, remains poorly understood due to the use of model systems that are limited by their ability to analyze only one phase of breast cancer progression. In this pursuit, we’ve developed preclinical models where both breast tumour onset and progression into metastatic disease can be assessed in a unifying system.
Shortly, I’ll be presenting my work at the International Gap Junction Conference in Valparaiso, Chile; specifically, on the protective role of the gap junction protein connexin26 in the context of breast cancer onset, research that was done in collaboration with Dr. Christian Naus at The University of British Columbia.
It’s our hope that this work may help to further our understanding of gap junction proteins in breast cancer and ultimately identify at which stage they could potentially serve as candidate therapeutic targets for breast cancer patient treatment.
Thank you to BCSC for your trainee support!
– Michael Stewart, PhD student researcher
Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit, London Health Sciences Centre