The Leadership Team is the organizing body for Center-level planning and decision-making. The group i) monitors progress toward milestones in the Plan to Enhance Diverse Perspectives, ii) reviews intracenter pilot projects, iii) plans annual site visits with NCI staff and the External Advisory Board, and iv) discusses candidate cross-consortium projects in consultation with the NCI.
Resource Management Team
The Resource Management Teamacts as the interface between the MC2 Center Research Coordinating Hub and the specific resource-development activities of the SASCO Center. The group i) ensures standards and platforms put forth by the Resource and Data Sharing Working Group are transmitted to the Center, ii) communicates Center-specific challenges with resource sharing to the MC2 Center, and iii) facilitates the timely sharing of data and resources originating from the High-Content Imaging & Analysis Core and the Research Projects. Andrea Denton presented an update of the SASCO Data Management effort in November. The presentation can be viewed HERE.
Inclusion of Diverse Perspectives
The SASCO Center is committed to increasing inclusion of scientists from historically marginalized backgrounds and introducing antiracist research practices within its research activities. We will take proactive steps to recognize and lower the systematic barriers that have led to marginalization of certain groups in cancer research. We utilize the pilot funding mechanism, coupled with proactive outreach and mentorship to increase representation and support career success of women and members of historically marginalized backgrounds. Additionally, we seek to improve research awareness within the Center about how institutionalized racism has resulted in white-centered experimental systems and bias in conventional citation practices. The Administrative Core supports an annual event that includes community members and couples with summer activities of the Outreach Core as part of its Plan to Enhance Diverse Perspectives. Kristen Naegle presented at our September meeting, Enhancing Diverse Perspectives: Striving to break out of the default -becoming more antiracist, the slides are available HERE. Kevin Janes introduced the NCI sponsored Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program in September. Andrea Denton presented at our November meeting, Citation Diversity, the slides are available HERE.
Intra-Center Pilot Projects
The SASCO Center offers Intra-Center Pilot Projects with cost-matched support from the UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center and UVA Office of the Vice-President for Research. Details on the Intra-Center Pilot Projects are released as an annual Request For Applications.
The Systems Analysis of Stress-Adapted Cancer Organelles (SASCO) Center is an NCI-funded U54 Cancer Systems Biology Consortium research center at UVA. SASCO investigators are dedicated to the study of cancer cell biology using integrated experimental and computational methods, especially where computational inferences inform experimental hypotheses. In such projects, a “measure-model-test” cycle is typical. Read more about specific SASCO research themes on oncogenic stress on organelles in three cancer settings, the collaborative research core, and the investigator team at the SASCO website.
In its second year (beginning September 1), the Center will support $100,000 of pilot funding to UVA principal investigators. The broad goal of pilot funding is to introduce investigators to cancer systems biology research questions and approaches. While alignment with the theme of oncogenic stress on organelles is preferred, it is not a required component of a successful pilot project application. Pilot funding applicants can propose projects that integrate with existing SASCO themes, or they can propose new cancer systems biology projects. To aid applicants in designing their approach, the overall aims of the SASCO proposal are available upon request. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact U54 Center MPI Matthew Lazzara with questions and to discuss project alignment.
- RFA will post on InfoReady.
- Applications are not yet being accepted for Year 3 awards.
Year 2 Pilot Projects
Shayn Pierce-Cottler PhD, UVa Department of Biomedical Engineering
- Endothelial cell-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) as regulators of pancreatic cell EMT
Lakeshia Taite PhD, UVa Department of Chemical Engineering
- A Tunable Hydrogel Tumor Microenvironment to Refine Computational Modeling of EMT-associated YAP/TAZ Mechanotransduction
Year 1 Pilot Projects
Stephanie Redemann PhD, UVa Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, Cell Biology
- Regulation of the Chromosomal Passenger Complex (CPC) amount on the level of individual chromosomes during mitosis
Ahmad Jomaa PhD, UVa Department of Physiology and Biological Physics
- Mechanism of Tom34-mediated mitochondrial adaptation in colorectal cancer
Sepideh Dolatshahi PhD, UVa Department of Biomedical Engineering in collaboration with Kathryn Miller-Jensen PhD, Yale Department of Biomedical Engineering.
- Golgi stress and aberrant glycosylation in hypoxic conditions: regulation and immune interactions
High-Content Imaging & Analysis Core
The High-Content Imaging & Analysis Core provides the three SASCO Center projects with experimental and computational resources to analyze different biological samples by multiplexed fluorescence microscopy and to extract quantitative data from microscopy-based images. The core will develop, validate, and apply highly multiplexed (iterative) imaging approaches, integrate subcellular imaging data collected across multiple rounds of iterative imaging, and build customized tools for image analysis, feature recognition, and extraction. The generated multi-parametric datasets will address specific needs of each project, enabling model-experiment iterations involving diverse cancer drivers, signaling pathways, and subcellular organelles in multiple biological contexts. Aim #1 supports the development, validation, and application of highly multiplexed immunofluorescence staining and imaging procedures to measure molecular features at cellular, subcellular, and organelle resolution. These procedures will enable the molecular analysis of mitotic signaling pathways and recruitment patterns in metaphase chromosomes derived from breast cancer organoids (Project 1), mitochondrial morphology, cell signaling and metabolic enzymes in colorectal cancer cells and tumors (Project 2), and post-translational modifications of key EGFR signaling molecules, protein-protein interactions, and their subcellular localization in glioblastoma cells (Project 3). Aim #2 customizes tools for quantitative image analysis, including image alignment and tracking, segmentation of cells and subcellular structures, as well as feature extraction and recognition. The High-Content Imaging & Analysis Core provides all three projects the necessary expertise and tools for quantifying information about cells, cultures, and tissues from image data to support hypothesis generation and model testing related to the overall hypotheses of the SASCO Center.
The SASCO Outreach Core serves to promote the broad use of systems biology in cancer research beyond the University of Virginia (UVA); disseminate and increase accessibility of computational and experimental approaches developed within the SASCO Center to the cancer research enterprise; and recruit the involvement of investigators, cancer biologists, and clinicians from diverse backgrounds to enrich the research and environment of the Center. The Outreach Core has three initiatives. First, undergraduates from around the country will participate in summer research experiences in SASCO laboratories through existing outstanding summer research internship programs at the Schools of Medicine and Engineering & Applied Science. Second, we will develop a series of three 25-minute videos designed to introduce clinicians to systems concepts and approaches toward enabling stronger collaborations between clinicians and systems biologists. The videos will be piloted for effectiveness within a Clinical and Translational Science Award program that includes UVA and other health centers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Third, the SASCO Outreach Core will enable summer scholar-in-residence positions for faculty of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to develop research projects in SASCO laboratories. The goal of this third aim is to both establish systems-based research projects at HBCUs and increase the visibility of systems approaches in their curricula. The Outreach Core synergizes with the Center’s Plan to Enhance Diverse Perspectives by engaging individuals from historically marginalized groups at the undergraduate to faculty levels in SASCO research themes.
Sarah Groves is developing videos designed to introduce clinicians to systems concepts and approaches.