Grants - Washington - V Scholar Grants - 2015

Andrew Hsieh, M.D.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the developed world and there is currently no cure for its most deadly and advanced form, castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). The pervasiveness of this disease, particularly in minorities such as African Americans, highlights the importance of studying prostate cancer progression in order to develop effective new treatments. Historically, cancer research has focused on understanding how normal cells become cancer cells by accumulating alterations in DNA and RNA, the genetic material of a cell. However, these studies focus on only part of the overall process of gene expression, and neglect to take into account the ultimate end process of gene expression, protein production. Exciting discoveries from my lab and others have shown that the protein synthesis machinery is essential for cancer. This process can be hijacked by cancer, leading to grave consequences such as metastasis and drug resistance. Moreover, we have found that there is a remarkable therapeutic opportunity to drug cancerous protein synthesis without affecting normal cells in the body. The primary focus of our laboratory is to understand the fundamental connections between cancer and its protein making factories.  We will employ a convergence of state-of-the-art genetic tools and genome-sequencing strategies to study how abnormal protein production leads to CRPC and drug resistance. Our studies will help identify patients whose cancers are addicted to aberrant protein synthesis and will accelerate the development and application of cancer therapies that target this poorly understood, but vital cellular process in cancer patients.