Research Summary

We are interested in understanding the mechanisms encoded in the DNA by which cancerous cells avoid being detected and destroyed by the host’s immune system. Toward this goal, we examine the interactions between epigenetic modifiers, transcription factors and the genomic enhancers of target genes that in response to inflammation abnormally activate the immune escape program within tumor or damaged cells during aging, after radiation and in response to infectious diseases. To accomplish our goal, we have long lasting collaborations across campus, at Stanford University and other recognized national and international institutions.
With patients in mind, we are a research group dedicated to finding methods for improving the treatment of cancer by analyzing the DNA of individual patients. In the era of personalized medicine, this information is critical for understanding which therapy will be more effective for each patient, and for targeting specific cancer types, including cancer of the breast.

Research Funding

  • September 1, 2019 - August 31, 2022 - Identification of Novel Gene Regulatory Interactions Driving the Immune Evasion Program Through Transcriptional Activation of CD47 in Cancer , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: K22CA226365


  • SUNY Stony Brook University, NY, B.S., 2003, Biology
  • California Institute of Technology, CA, Ph.D., 2010, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • California Institute of Technology, CA, Postdoc, 2011, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Stanford University, CA, Postdoc, 2017, Genomics and Cancer Immunology

Honors & Awards

  • 2010
    Lawrence L. and Audrey W. Ferguson Prize for outstanding doctoral thesis in biology, Caltech
  • 2011-2012
    NIH T32 Training Grant, Department of Immunology at Stanford
  • 2013-2015
    Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Fellowship
  • 2018
    Stanford Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and Translational Diagnostics | Cancer nanotechnology pilot project research grant
  • 2019
    NIH K22 National Cancer Institute (NCI) Career Transition Award
  • 2019
    National Academy of Science NY and AMED: Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development | Promising Early Career Investigator Recognition (in aging and disease)
  • 2020
    Research Allocation Program (RAP) Under-represented Faculty in Clinical and Translational Research Award
  • 2020
    COVID Catalyst Award Henry Wheeler Center for Emerging Neglected Diseases (CEND)
  • 2020
    Cancer League Award

Selected Publications

  1. Di Benedetto C, Khan T, Serrano-Saenz S, Rodriguez-Lemus A, Klomsiri C, Beutel TM, Thach A, Walczak H, Betancur P. Enhancer Clusters Drive Type I Interferon-Induced TRAIL Overexpression in Cancer, and Its Intracellular Protein Accumulation Fails to Induce Apoptosis. Cancers (Basel). 2023 Feb 03; 15(3).  View on PubMed
  2. Di Benedetto C, Oh J, Choudhery Z, Shi W, Valdes G, Betancur P. NSMCE2, a novel super-enhancer-regulated gene, is linked to poor prognosis and therapy resistance in breast cancer. BMC Cancer. 2022 Oct 12; 22(1):1056.  View on PubMed
  3. Cui L, Chen SY, Lerbs T, Lee JW, Domizi P, Gordon S, Kim YH, Nolan G, Betancur P, Wernig G. Activation of JUN in fibroblasts promotes pro-fibrotic programme and modulates protective immunity. Nat Commun. 2020 06 03; 11(1):2795.  View on PubMed
  4. Betancur PA, Abraham BJ, Yiu YY, Willingham SB, Khameneh F, Zarnegar M, Kuo AH, McKenna K, Kojima Y, Leeper NJ, Ho P, Gip P, Swigut T, Sherwood RI, Clarke MF, Somlo G, Young RA, Weissman IL. A CD47-associated super-enhancer links pro-inflammatory signalling to CD47 upregulation in breast cancer. Nat Commun. 2017 04 05; 8:14802.  View on PubMed
  5. Kojima Y, Volkmer JP, McKenna K, Civelek M, Lusis AJ, Miller CL, Direnzo D, Nanda V, Ye J, Connolly AJ, Schadt EE, Quertermous T, Betancur P, Maegdefessel L, Matic LP, Hedin U, Weissman IL, Leeper NJ. CD47-blocking antibodies restore phagocytosis and prevent atherosclerosis. Nature. 2016 08 04; 536(7614):86-90.  View on PubMed
  6. Betancur P, Simões-Costa M, Sauka-Spengler T, Bronner ME. Expression and function of transcription factor cMyb during cranial neural crest development. Mech Dev. 2014 May; 132:38-43.  View on PubMed
  7. Betancur P, Sauka-Spengler T, Bronner M. A Sox10 enhancer element common to the otic placode and neural crest is activated by tissue-specific paralogs. Development. 2011 Sep; 138(17):3689-98.  View on PubMed
  8. Betancur P, Bronner-Fraser M, Sauka-Spengler T. Genomic code for Sox10 activation reveals a key regulatory enhancer for cranial neural crest. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Feb 23; 107(8):3570-5.  View on PubMed
  9. Betancur P, Bronner-Fraser M, Sauka-Spengler T. Assembling neural crest regulatory circuits into a gene regulatory network. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2010; 26:581-603.  View on PubMed
  10. Paola A. Betancur, Tatjana Sauka-Spengler, Marianne Bronner-Fraser. c-Myb, Ets-1 and Sox9 directly activate a Sox10 core enhancer in delaminating cranial neural crest. Developmental Biology. 2009 Jul 1; 331(2):438.  View on PubMed

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