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

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Berns, Anton J.
Location The Netherlands Cancer Institute
Primary Field Medical Genetics, Hematology and Oncology
Secondary Field Cellular and Developmental Biology
 Election Citation
Berns has been largely focused on understanding the molecular basis of cancer using genetically engineered mice as a model system to study critical aspects of cancer, such as its interaction with normal cells, local invasion and metastatic spread, the immune system and identifying the key drivers of cancer development.
 Research Interests
My laboratory is interested in defining the genetic aberrations that are critical for lung tumor development. Genetically engineered mouse models are used to unravel the specific mechanisms of action of the various lesions found in lung cancer in man. The tumor subtypes we are focusing on are: small cell lung cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and mesothelioma. We induce tumor development by genetic activation of oncogenes and/or inactivation of tumor suppressor genes. The specific questions we try to answer: 1. What is the cell-of-origin of these tumors? Can different cell types in lung give rise to similar tumors? Do they retain specific features of their cell-of-origin? 2. Can we identify better intervention strategies? Do genetic screens in cell lines in vitro (transposon and Crisp/Cas9 mutagenesis) yield actionable targets that subsequently can be validated in autochthonous mouse models? 3. To what extent does the genetic background influence tumor development? Can we identify alleles of unaltered germline genes that synergize with oncogenic lesions in facilitating tumor development? 4. Do the observations made in the mouse models have a corollary in cognate human tumors and can this information be used for designing better intervention strategies?

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