Cancer Stem Cell Lab



  Lab Members



  CV (pdf)

It's Our Time
"Watch this dynamic five-minute video
detailing the striking statistics of the
progress and promise of cancer research.
"It's Our Time" was first presented at the
Opening Ceremony of the AACR 101st
Annual Meeting 2010."

I left Purdue to pursue development of anticancer therapeutics.

I have found Ixchel Scientific with a mission to eliminate metastatic cancer.

I can be reached at jkirshner at ixchelsci dot com


BIOL 69500, Current Topics in Cancer, fall 2010, 2012

BIOL 59500, Understanding Breast Cancer, fall 2010

BIOL 53700, Immunobiology, spring 2010, 2011, 2012

Research Interests

Strong evidence in support of the cancer stem cell theory has been steadily accumulating over the last decade.  In addition to tumorigenic potential, cancer stem cells possess characteristics of normal stem cells including proliferative quiescence, self-renewal potential, and multipotency.  Upon receiving proliferation signal(s) from the microenvironment, cancer stem cells switch their program from quiescence to differentiation/proliferation, initiating tumor growth. Patients suffering from both hematological maligancies and solid tumors often see their disease relapse due to the inability of the currently used therapies to target successfully cancer stem cells.  Thus, determining which characteristics of the cancer stem cells can be therapeutically exploited is of utmost importance.  My lab studies the properties of cancer stem cells using two model systems: multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, and breast cancer, representing hematological and solid malignancies respectively.

Tumors are formed when quescent cancer stem cells receive signals from the microenvironment to start differentiating and proliferating.  One model describing this process suggests that this happens during asymetric self-renewal where one daughter cell differentiates into a tumor projenitor and the other maintains its stem cell phenotype.  When the patient receives anti-cancer therapy, the tumor cells are killed, however, cancer stem cells are resistant to most currently used treatments, and thus, these cells remain and contribute to tumor relapse.  Therefore, the cycle of tumorigenesis persists, and will persist until we design therapies which can eliminate cancer stem cells.


The long-term research objectives of my laboratory are to investigate the fundamental question in cancer stem cell biology.  What is the role of microenvironment in maintaining the balance between self-renewal and differentiation of cancer stem cells?  Our working hypothesis is that cancer stem cells are found in a specialized microenvironment niche which keeps the cells in a non-proliferative state.  Altering the conditions in favor of differentiation and proliferation leads to tumor re-growth.  
To study these processes we utilize tissue culture and in vivo approaches; using 3-dimensional tissue culture models to reconstruct human tissues in vitro and humanized mouse models to recapitulate the human microenvironment in an animal.  Please visit the Cancer Stem Cell Lab website for more information on the current projects and technologies being developed in the lab.


2003      Ph.D.      Molecular and Cell Biology              City of Hope Graduate School of Biological Sciences

1998      B.S.        Genetics (minor in Psychology)       University of California, Davis

My World Outside the Lab

My partner in crime, Sergey

Our little tot, Ellie

Our furry bum, Checkers

Last modified: July 13, 2012