Vintner Grant funded by the V Foundation Wine Celebration in honor of Joe and Pat Harbison
DNA, which stores all of our genetic information, is constantly being damaged by environmental sources such as sunlight or from products of normal processes within each cell. If unrepaired, DNA damage may result in mistakes, which can lead to cancer. We study human cells from patients who do not have the full capacity to repair the DNA due to a genetic disease called Fanconi anemia. They are predisposed to the development of cancers including those of head and neck. We propose to determine how cancers develop in this group of patients by identifying all the permanent changes that occur in Fanconi anemia tumors and to study how these changes lead to cancer development. We also want to take advantage of these changes to find better treatments for head and neck cancers. For our work, we use patient tumor samples and mouse models of cancer. In addition to all of the tools we currently have at our disposal, we aim to develop new ones including patient tumor samples that can be grown in the mouse and can be shared across laboratories. Our studies have the potential to help with prevention, early detection, and treatment of head and neck cancers.