Lehman Today Online Magazine Lehman Today Fall 2015 - Page 22

– PORTFOLIO – Moira Sauane On the Front Lines of the War on Cancer Cancer and affordable access to effective diagnosis and treatments are critical, growing public health problems. At Lehman College, professors are committed to cutting-edge cancer research that can lead to therapies that will benefit populations globally. One such team of researchers at Lehman College, led by Moira Sauane, a professor in the biological sciences department, is working to discover a mechanism for killing cancer cells, for which she received a four-year, $1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. Prabodhika Mallikaratchy “Our lab focuses on dissecting fundamental molecular mechanisms that regulate cell death with the ultimate goal of accelerating the development of novel experimental anti-cancer therapeutic agents,” said Sauane, whose team includes Lehman students. “We aim to target specific signaling pathways in molecularly defined subtypes of cancer, with a major focus on melanoma, breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.” In 2013 her team published their discovery on the interaction of two proteins that promote the death of cancerous cells and make tumors more sensitive to radiation and chemotherapy. Today, their work is focused on exploring the potential of apoptosis-based gene therapy. Investigating effective methods to fight cancer is also the focus of another Lehman research lab. Led by Prabodhika Mallikaratchy, a professor of analytical chemistry, the team is seeking a new class of synthetic antibody mimics based on DNA aptamers. Funded by a National Institute of Health grant, the laboratory’s long-term goal is to develop oligonucleotide aptamer based synthetic antibodies for biological and biomedical applications. In these two labs, as well as others, Lehman College has created a strong foundation to make key scientific advancements. Sauane believes there is another critical element which distinguishes Lehman as a premier cancer research institution: “The level of cancer research at Lehman College to a great extent depends on our students on whom we rely on for their intelligence, hard work, and creativity,” she said. Working with top undergraduate and graduate students, Lehman is poised to take its place on the front lines in the fight against cancer. 20 Lehman Today/Spring 2015