THIS YEAR’S FEATURED RESEARCHERS
Matthew Breen, Ph.D., CBiol.
FRSB North Carolina State University
Dr. Matthew Breen is a Professor of Genomics and the Oscar J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology Genetics in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Breen’s research focuses on genetics, genomics, and the comparative aspects of animal and human health. Using a range of genetic and genomic technologies, his research team evaluates changes to genome organization that occur in animal cancers. The group aims to improve outcomes for animal cancer patients while simultaneously advancing understanding of the comparable cancers in people.
Dr. Breen is a member of the NCSU Comparative Medicine Institute, Center for Human Health and the Environment, and the Genetics and Genomics Academy, as well as the Duke Cancer Institute, and the Cancer Genetics Program at the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is a member of the NC State Research Leadership Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and a Chartered Biologist. He has served on scientific review committees for numerous federal agencies and private foundations and serves on the editorial board of several scientific journals. He was a charter member of the Canine Comparative Oncology and Genomics Consortium (CCOGC), serves on the steering committee of the National Cancer Institute’s Integrated Canine Data Commons, and is a member of the Science Committee for the Humanimal Trust.
Michael D. Deel, M.D.
Dr. Michael Deel is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the division of hematology-oncology at Duke University. He came to Duke for a clinical fellowship in 2013 and joined the Duke faculty in 2017 after completing his training. In addition to caring for pediatric cancer patients, Dr. Deel leads a laboratory within Duke’s Cancer Institute focused on finding new treatment approaches for sarcomas. Sarcomas are a diverse group of tumors that occur in connective tissue like bone, cartilage or muscle. These tumors remain a major challenge with few therapeutic advances over the past several decades. While sarcomas can occur in younger children, they often affect adolescents and young adults in the prime of their lives. Dr. Deel’s group is seeking to identify vulnerabilities within the genetic programs that are the drivers of many of these tumors. Ultimately, his goal is that those vulnerabilities can be specifically targeted as novel therapies.
Yuliya Pylayeva-Gupta, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Pylayeva-Gupta obtained a Ph.D. from the Weill Cornell/Sloan Kettering graduate program and has completed postdoctoral studies at the NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Pylayeva-Gupta is an Associate Professor and a Co-Leader of Immunology Program at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is developing novel approaches to boost anti-tumor immunity in immunotherapy refractory pancreatic cancer. Her laboratory has focused on B cells as critical components of an effective immune response and is working to understand how B cell responses can be generated and reprogrammed to improve anti-tumor immunity.
David R. Soto-Pantoja, Ph.D.
Wake Forest University
David Soto-Pantoja, Ph.D., is a tenured Associate Professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Dr. Soto-Pantoja obtained his B.S. with honors from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayague, received his Ph.D. from Wake Forest School of Medicine and his postdoctoral fellowship from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. He focuses his work on investigating immuno-metabolic markers of cancer immunotherapy response and investigates the cell surface receptor CD47 as an immunotherapy target in different types of cancers. Through clinical trials and animal models, he explores the effects of CD47 targeting on tumor cell bioenergetics, with the goal of developing anti-cancer therapeutics that inhibit tumor growth and prevent chemotherapy-related cardiac toxicity. He has received several awards to support this work, including the American Cancer Scholar Award, V Foundation Scholar in Cancer Research Award, and the Melanoma Research Foundation Established Investigator Award.