Davide Ruggero, PhD
Helen Diller Family Chair in Basic Cancer Research, UCSF
Professor, Department of Urology, UCSF
Our research has expanded the traditional lines of investigation into cancer biology, uncovering a novel layer of control to gene regulation for cancer initiation at the post-genomic level. We have been at the forefront of realizing that the cancer proteome is profoundly shaped by molecular events downstream of transcription. In particular, across evolution, many host-parasite relationships usurp the translation machinery to drive a tailored protein synthesis program. For example, viruses hijack the host's translation apparatus as a means to drive the selective translation of their own viral mRNAs. Similarly, our research has been fundamental in establishing that cancer cells have usurped the cell's translation machinery. This provides a unique means for production of tailored proteins that selectively fuel cancer cell growth, proliferation and metastasis. Utilizing biochemical, molecular, and genetic approaches within the context of unique animal models, we are uncovering new mechanisms for gene-specific control of mRNA translation vital for cancer initiation. These results have been instrumental in the design of a new generation of compounds that modulate protein synthesis and act as novel therapeutic agents. Presently, there is an unprecedented potential for changing the landscape of cancer therapies with the first targeted molecules for oncogenic-dependent protein synthesis. This reflects a new cancer cell vulnerability that may pave a new, fundamental shift in targeting oncogenic pathways that is less likely to trigger drug resistance.
University of Rome, La Sapienza, Italy, BS, magna cum laude, Molecular & Cellular Biology, 1994
University of Rome, La Sapienza, Italy, PhD, magna cum laude, Molecular & Cellular Biology, 1998