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Ruth Scherz-Shouval, PhD

Ruth Scherz-Shouval, PhD

Grant Status
Active

Institution
Weizmann Institute of Science

Grant Type
Project Grant

Project Title
Dissecting the Stromal Landscape of Colitis-Associated Cancer

Tumor Types

Research Topics
Colorectal Cancer


About the Investigator:

Dr. Scherz-Shouval’s research focuses on understanding how a cancer cell alters the local environment to support tumor growth. She received her BSc degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and her PhD in Cell Biology from the Weizmann Institute. After postdoctoral training at the MIT Whitehead Institute, she returned to the Weizmann, where she is now a Senior Scientist and head of an independent laboratory in the Department of Biomolecular Sciences.

About the Research:

For tumors to expand, metastasize, and evade immune surveillance, cancer cells must recruit normal, non-cancerous cells that provide a suitable local neighborhood for cancer cell proliferation. The recruited cells are collectively termed the tumor microenvironment. Cells in the microenvironment are reprogrammed to support the tumor at the expense of its host, and this can cause local inflammation at the site of the tumor.  Inflammation, in turn, drives tumor development and can lead to very aggressive disease. This is evident in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), where chronic inflammation of the colon causes a condition known as “colitis” and puts patients at high risk of developing colitis-associated colon cancer.

The goal of Dr. Scherz-Shouval’s research is to learn how to block the pro-tumorigenic factors that are activated by colitis.  Many of these factors are produced by a cell type known as fibroblast, which provides the structural support for tissues including the intestines and skin. During inflammation, fibroblasts are activated and they secrete factors that cause local inflammation and stimulate growth of pre-cancerous cells. Dr. Scherz-Shouval and her team will learn how fibroblasts are activated, and identify the changes that they undergo in the process leading from IBD to colon cancer. This will provide a deeper understanding of how tumors develop into systemic malignancies and guide development of new therapies for IBD patients at risk for colitis-associated colon cancer.

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