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We're proud to support the research of Dr. Ralitsa Madsen

Thanks to your support, we're pleased to award another research grant!
We have awarded $20,000 to Dr. Ralitsa Madsen, postdoctoral fellow in Professor Bart Vanhaesebroeck's research group at University College London Cancer Institute.

Dr. Madsen, during her PhD in Professor Robert Semple's group at Cambridge University, developed the first developmental cell models with PIK3CA-H1047R expression. This discovery has revised the prevailing understanding of how PIK3CA mutations may cause diseases such as PIK3CA Related Overgrowth Spectrum (PROS) and cancer, suggesting that it is not only important to know whether or not a mutation is present, but also its exact dose and thus the strength of PI3K pathway activation.

We're supporting a project called "The systems biology of activating PIK3CA mutations in mosaic endothelial cell models." Diseases of human growth and development are often caused by genetic mutations that disrupt critical circuits inside our cells. Analogous to a broken radio, a cell affected by such a mutation no longer "plays the right music". The PI3K circuit is one of the most commonly disrupted in cancer and developmental growth disorders known as PROS. Its disruption in PROS leads to unabated growth and a range of debilitating challenges. Despite available PI3K inhibitors, treatment of PROS remains limited, in part due to the diversity of cell types that can be affected – each one "playing the wrong tune" in its own unique way. A detailed understanding of these cells, and how to treat them, requires quantitative characterization of the malfunctioning circuit components. In addition, there is a need to understand whether diseased cells may influence, or even reprogram, healthy cells in a mosaic tissue to behave abnormally. This grant will support the engineering of novel cell model systems that enable studies addressing these critical questions.
We're looking forward to sharing outcomes from this research grant over the next year.
Stay well - Kristen Davis, Executive Director

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