Research over the last 20 years has focused mainly on understanding the functions and roles of newly discovered mutated genes in the development of cancer and associated diseases. However, it remains largely unknown how environmental factors can alter the host’s eukaryotic epithelial cells to cause various pathologies that can progress to cancer. Identifying likely causal links between environmental stresses and diseases that progress to cancer will help to elucidate mechanisms of disease and to identify targets with preventive and therapeutic value for treating frequent lethal human disorders with increased worldwide incidence and unmet medical needs.
In our laboratory, we focus on understanding the mechanisms of diseases associated with the ingestion of toxic diets or nutrient overload that can lead to obesity and associated disorders, including diseases of the digestive system. We have a particular interest in liver disease, including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and cirrhosis, and their progression to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), one of the most aggressive and lethal liver cancers. We also study intestinal disorders that can lead to colorectal cancer. Our ultimate goal is to guide the design of new medicines.