Yardena Samuels – Towards deciphering the immuno-genomic landscape in melanoma
- Speaker: Yardena Samuels, Head, EKARD Institute for Cancer Diagnosis Research. Department of Molecular Cell Biology. Head, Weizmann-Brazil Tumor Bank, Israel
- Talk title: Towards deciphering the immuno-genomic landscape in melanoma
- Date & time: Friday, 21th May, 2021
- Host: Alena Gros, Principal Investigator of VHIO’s Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Group
I have a long-standing interest in the molecular genetics of cancer. As a postdoctoral fellow in Bert Vogelstein’s lab, I was the first to uncover the high frequency of mutations in the PIK3CA gene in human cancers (Science, 2004) and made important contributions to the characterization of their effects (Cancer Cell 2005). My laboratory’s focus involves the identification and characterization of gene mutations that play a role in the progression of cutaneous melanoma. Our aim is to delineate ideal protein target combinations in melanoma to achieve lasting disease control. We have identified and characterized multiple melanoma mutations over the years and have emphasized their comprehensive functional analysis.
My lab was the first to demonstrated that, contrary to previous beliefs, metalloproteinases may function as tumour suppressors rather than oncogenes (Nat Gen 2009), identified ERBB4 is the most highly mutated tyrosine kinase in melanoma (Nat Gen 2009), paving the way to a phase II clinical trial (NCT01264081) and was the first to publish the melanoma whole exome (Nat Gen 2011). My lab was part of the TCGA workgroup who published the most comprehensive Genomic Classification of Cutaneous Melanoma (Cell, 2015).
Recently, using unbiased analyses to identify novel tumour suppressor genes my lab discovered RASA2 as a novel melanoma tumor suppressor (Nat Gen 2015). Recently, my lab moved into the immunogenomic field and developed novel methods to identify melanoma neo-antigens using genetic and rapid proteomic methods (Cancer Discovery 2018). We have further set up the first mouse model that aims to tease apart the influences of tumor heterogeneity vs. mutational load on anti-tumor immunity. Our findings in mice and human patients suggest that the strongest genetic determinant affecting the anti-tumor immune response is tumor heterogeneity (Cell 2019). The combination of these technologies, models and experience fulfill a strong foundation for the submitted proposal.