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As a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dr. Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D. has established an environment that challenges researchers and facilitates cancer research. She is an expert on melanoma metastasis, the Wnt signaling pathway, and the effects of aging on melanoma metastasis. Dr. Weeraratna also serves as president of The Society of Melanoma Research.

Click on play to learn:

  • What happens to healthy cells that are surrounded by cancer cells.
  • How age-related changes at the molecular level may affect tumor cells.
  • How cells are affected if they are a localized cancer versus a metastatic niche.

The Weeraratna lab is known for cancer biology research and is currently studying the molecular mechanisms that lead to metastatic progression and therapy resistance. Dr. Weeraratna has conducted research on the molecular mechanisms and signal transduction pathways to determine what causes cells to become more aggressive and develop into melanoma tumors. The goal is to understand the age-related changes at a molecular level and identify how those changes affect tumor cells making them behave aggressively.

Research continues on the effects of the tumor microenvironment on metastasis and therapy resistance. Researchers seek to understand how the aging microenvironment influences metastasis and therapy resistance, specifically in melanoma. In the short term, Dr. Weeraratna hopes to use an inhibitor to enhance the response to targeted therapies in older patients who are not eligible for immune therapy. In the long term, studies are focusing on age-related modifications such as life-style changes and/or medications to increase the chances of surviving cancer. The ultimate goal is to treat cancer as a chronic disease.

In December 2021, Dr. Weeraratna’s book, Is Cancer Inevitable? will be released. The book includes the personal story of her journey to become a respected cancer researcher. It also discusses the research she has been involved in such as the effects of aging on skin and corresponding changes in tumor growth as well as seeking ways to treat and prevent melanoma.

To learn more visit:

Website: research.jhu.edu/members/ashani-weeraratna
jhu.bmb.phd.org/ashani-weeraratna

Twitter: @AshaniTW

Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/30PvU9C

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