Ernesto Diaz-Flores, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics/Oncology, UCSF
As a leukemia researcher, my ultimate goal is to find new cures for high-risk leukemia through an understanding of mechanisms mediating leukemogenesis. Through my training and experience accumulated over the last two decades, I am poised to bring novel discoveries to advance the field of leukemia research.
My graduate studies in molecular biology provided me expertise on T cell leukemia signaling and helped me identify critical mediators of lymphoid activation. For my postdoctoral studies I focused my efforts on in vivo models of leukemia. During my first postdoc in Dr. Shannon's lab, I dissected signal transduction alterations resulting from expression of mutant KrasG12D. My studies informed several therapeutic candidates for cells harboring what is considered an undruggable target. For my second postdoc, I joined Dr. Loh’s laboratory, where I studied the biochemical mechanisms of childhood hypodiploid leukemia. During this period, I made the observation that p53 is deregulated in low hypodiploid (LH) patient samples, which lead to the discovery of mutations in TP53 in LH B-ALL (>90%) with 40% of those mutations being present in germline. These findings are now used in the clinic to screen for TP53 mutations and Li-Fraumeni syndrome in patients with hypodiploid ALL.
Since promoted to assistant professor, I identified BCL-2 as a promising therapeutic target and carried all the experiments to identify and validate ABT-199 (Venetoclax) as an effective drug against this leukemia. I recently published this work as first and corresponding author. These studies contributed to the first clinical trial of ABT-199 (Venetoclax) for pediatric ALL opening this year. In follow up work as senior author, I provide evidence for a highly effective combinatorial therapy (submitted to Blood). Most recently, I have been implementing bioinformatics and systems biology analyses to my research. Thus, my current work builds upon my prior knowledge and efforts with proven translational relevance, but it also represents a completely new are of research and a new paradigm to bring novel treatments to the clinic.
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, BS, 01/1997, Biochemistry
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, PhD cum laude, 01/2003, Molecular Biology
University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF), Postdoc, 06/2010, Oncology
University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF), Postdoc, 03/2014, Oncology