Newswise — La Jolla, Calif., August 16, 2016 — Brooke Emerling, Ph.D., has joined the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) as an assistant professor in the Cancer Metabolism and Signaling Networks Program. She brings a pioneering research program with strong potential to yield new cancer therapies. “Dr. Emerling is remarkably accomplished, and her research addresses an unmet need in the treatment of breast cancer,” said Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D., president of SBP. “Her future work is highly likely to impact the clinic.” “Unlike the other three major subtypes of breast cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, or TNBC, is treatable only with standard chemotherapy, which doesn’t always work,” said Emerling. “The other subtypes can be treated with targeted therapies—drugs that block the receptors that fuel their growth, but TNBC lacks these receptors. The lack of specific treatments means that it has a mortality rate three times higher than the other subtypes.” Emerling has identified a promising new therapeutic target for TNBC and other cancers driven by loss of the tumor suppressor p53—PI5P4Ks, a class of lipid kinases. She has shown that inactivating PI5P4Ks stops these cancers from growing. This exciting discovery led to grants from the Department of Defense, the Mary Kay Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to provide proof of concept that targeting these enzymes would treat p53-mutant breast cancers, especially TNBC. The lab’s planned investigations could also relate to many other diseases as well, as they include studying the role of PI5P4Ks in metabolism and autophagy. Autophagy is cellular housekeeping—an essential means of recycling dysfunctional or unnecessary parts. Problems with autophagy have been linked with diseases from type 2 diabetes to Parkinson’s and arthritis. Emerling comes to SBP from Weill Cornell Medical College, where she has been an instructor of Cancer Biology in Medicine since completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in 2013. “I’m thrilled to be joining SBP,” said Emerling. “My research fits really well with the interests of several SBP faculty, who are doing amazing work in metabolism and autophagy. Combined with the collegial, collaborative environment and how great the people are from the top down—it’s exactly where I want to be.”
About SBP Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) is an independent nonprofit medical research organization that conducts world-class, collaborative, biological research and translates its discoveries for the benefit of patients. SBP focuses its research on cancer, immunity, neurodegeneration, metabolic disorders and rare children’s diseases. The Institute invests in talent, technology and partnerships to accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries that will have the greatest impact on patients. Recognized for its world-class NCI-designated Cancer Center and the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, SBP employs about 1,100 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at SBPdiscovery.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/SBPdiscovery and on Twitter @SBPdiscovery.