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Alison Clark Researches Third Most Common Cause of Cancer Death Worldwide

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Author: Charlotte Anthony | Category: Meet The Researcher | Cancer Biology | Cancer Biology | September 11, 2015

Alison Clark was raised by scientists which helped fuel her interest in biological sciences.

But it wasn’t until she was in high school that her interest in cell biology truly peaked.

“I was enrolled in AP Biology, where we had to learn about cellular processes in great detail…I remember being so enthralled by what a cell is capable of doing, and the intricacies of the mechanisms behind its actions,” Clark said. “Since then, I just wanted to learn more.”

Clark’s interest led her to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health Science Center where she is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Cellular and Structural Biology.

Her research focuses on colorectal cancer, which is currently the third most common cause of cancer death worldwide for both men and women.

“Wnt/b-catenin signaling is dysregulated in over 90 percent of sporadic colorectal cancer cases, therefore targeting this pathway would be beneficial,” Doyungan explained.

Specifically, she is looking at the effects of disrupting protein-protein interactions downstream of Wnt/b-catenin pathway on colorectal cancer signaling and oncogenic properties.

“Cancer is a very heterogeneous disease that affects almost everyone in some shape or form,” she said. “This is why I am passionate about seeking answers regarding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive this disease and potentially delivering solutions in a clinical setting.”

Clark explained that even though her project focuses on colorectal cancer, the information obtained from her studies is also applicable to other types of cancers.

“It is common that similar signaling pathways are altered from one type of cancer to another,” she said. “My hope is that my research will ultimately lead to alternative approaches to treat cancers. If anything, my studies will add to the breadth of knowledge currently available out there, which only helps us understand this disease.”

To help her in her research, Clark has just received a Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Travel Award to attend the American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting.

“This travel award will help me in my research in multiple ways. For one, it’ll allow me to share my work to the scientific community and get feedback from fellow scientists. Such interactions can result in fruitful collaborations that take my findings a step further.”

This article is part of the "Meet The Researcher" series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. 

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