Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Brugge, Joan S.
Location Harvard University
Primary Field Cellular and Developmental Biology
Secondary Field Medical Genetics, Hematology and Oncology
 Election Citation
Early in her career, Brugge discovered a protein generated by the cancer-causing Rous sarcoma virus and uncovered what role this protein plays in normal and cancerous cells. This seminal work has served as a model system to investigate cellular processes involved in normal growth and tumor formation. Brugge's research also led her to discover a family of proteins that, by regulating cell adhesion and migration, significantly contribute to our immune defenses against microbes.
 Research Interests
My research has focused on two primary areas of investigation: (1) studies of the processes in the initiation and progression of breast cancer and (2) studies of how cellular receptors regulate the intracellular cytoskeleton. In the first area of research, my laboratory has developed a three-dimensional basement membrane model in which mammary epithelial cells can organize in vivo into structures resembling breast glands. Through this model, we are investigating the mechanisms that regulate normal morphogenesis and how oncogenes and genes associated with breast cancer perturb these processes, leading to events that resemble in vivo initiation and progression of tumors. In the second area of research, we are focused on a family of cellular proteins, called Vav proteins, that are critical in linking cell surface receptors to the actin cytoskeleton through small GTP binding proteins in the RhoGTPase family. Through studies of mice lacking different members of the Vav family, we have found that Vav proteins are critically involved in our defense against microorganisms. We are also investigating how Vav proteins couple receptors for chemotaxis-inducing factors with the cytoskeleton, as well as defining how Vavs function in coordinating the events involved in regulation of cell adhesion and migration.

 
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