Grants - V Scholar Grants - New York - 2021

Alison Taylor, PhD

Funded by the Constellation Gold Network Distributors

Genetic information is carried in DNA, which is present in every cell of our bodies. Most cells have 46 chromosomes, which carry DNA within the cell. However, more than 90% of tumors have cells without the correct number of chromosomes. These cells are called “aneuploid”. Some whole chromosomes or large chromosome fragments may be duplicated or lost. Aneuploidy is a contributing factor in cancer formation. However, its exact role in this process is an unanswered question in cancer biology. The goal of this research is to understand the effects of different changes in chromosome number.  

For our studies, we make use of a new technology that allows us to cut chromosomes at specific locations. With these experiments, we can study the effects of changes in large chromosome segments. Our current focus is a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). In this cancer type, large pieces of chromosome 3 are affected. Here, we will uncover the interaction between chromosome 3 changes and DNA mutations. We will also create a human cell model of SCC. These studies address a gap in our understanding of aneuploidy in cancer by studying the effects of specific sets of chromosomal changes. With knowledge of how these chromosomal changes contribute to cancer formation, we will uncover new ways that cells can become cancerous. A better understanding of paths to disease formation will be crucial for designing new cancer treatments.