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Thea Tlsty, PhD

Research and Clinical Interests

We study the epigenetic and genetic alterations that confer genomic instability and fuel cancer initiation and progression. Recently we identified a variant subpopulation of human mammary epithelial cells (vHMEC) that express properties of premalignant lesions without any exposure of the cells to carcinogens. These variant cells exist in vivo in disease-free women. We have also demonstrated that stromal changes extend beyond a supportive role and play key functional roles in facilitating tumorigenesis. We are studying the ability of carcinoma-associated fibroblasts from human tissues to facilitate the transition to tumorigenicity in an otherwise non-tumorigenic cell population.

Selected Publications

  • Olumi, AF., Grossfeld, GD., Hayward, SW., Carroll, PR., Tlsty, TD., and Cunha, GR. “Carcinoma-associated Fibroblasts Direct Tumor Progression of Initiated Human Prostatic Epithelium” Cancer Research, 61: 5002-5011, 1999
  • Romanov, S., Kozakiewicz, BK., Holst, CR. Stampfer, MR., Haupt, LM., and Tlsty, TD. “Normal Human Mammary Epithelial Cells Spontaneously Emerge from Senescence and Acquire Genomic Instability.” Nature 409:633-637, 2001
  • Crawford YP, Gauthier M, Joubel A, Mantei K, Kozakiewicz BK, Afshari C, Tlsty TD. “Histologically normal human mammary epithelia with silenced p16INK4a overexpress COX-2, promoting a premalignant program” Cancer Cell 5(3):263-73, 2004
  • Berman H, Zhang J, Crawford YG, Gauthier ML, Fordyce CA, McDermott KM, Sigaroudinia M, Kozakiewicz, Tlsty TD, “Genetic and Epigenetic Changes in Mammary Epithelial Cells Identify a Subpopulation of Cells Involved in Early Carcinogenesis” Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, Volume 70:317-27, 2005
  • Reynolds PA, Sigaroudinia M, Zardo G, Wilson MB, Benton GM, Miller CJ, Hong C, Fridlyand J, Costello JF, Tlsty TD, “Tumor Suppressor p16INK4A Regulates Polycomb-Mediated DNA Hypermethylation in Human Mammary Epithelial Cells” J Biol Chem. Jun 9, 2006

Selected Awards

  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2003
  • National Cancer Institute Knudson Award 2003
  • National Cancer Institute, Board of Scientific Advisors

Additional Information

  • Professor
  • Pathology

Specialty Area

Cancer Research

Contact Information

  • 513 Parnassus Avenue
  • Room HSW-513, Box 0511
  • San Francisco, CA 94143-0511
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