David H. Sherr, PhD, Consortium Director
Professor of Environmental Health, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine,
Boston University School of Public Health, School of Medicine
Director, Boston University Superfund Research Program
Co-director of the Cancer Interception Program, Boston University Cancer Center
Dr. Sherr is a molecular biologist, toxicologist, and cancer immunologist who studies cellular receptors that recognize a wide variety of environmental pollutants that signal cells to both grow and metastasize. He is an internationally recognized expert on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a protein that binds to environmental carcinogens and begins the aberrant signaling that results in a full-blown cancer cell.
Gail E. Sonenshein, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry
Tufts University School of Medicine
Dr. Sonenshein’s laboratory was the first to demonstrate inappropriate activation of NF-kB by environmental carcinogens and their role in promoting cancer growth and survival. While at Boston University, she established and directed the Women’s Health Interdisciplinary Research Center, a center dedicated to determining the underlying causes of several diseases in women including breast cancer. She is now working at Tufts and committed to further investigating the links between breast cancer and the environment.
Stefano Monti, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine, BU School of Medicine
Associate Professor of Biostatistics, BU School of Public Health
Affiliate Member, BU Bioinformatics Program
Affiliate Member, Rafik Hariri Institute for Computing and CS&E
Dr. Monti received his baccalaureate degree in computer science from the University of Udine in Italy. He received Masters degrees from the University of Houston in computer science and the University of Pittsburgh in artificial intelligence. His PhD work on artificial intelligence, as it relates to medical issues, also was performed at the University of Pittsburgh. He conducted his postdoctoral work at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to being appointed Senior Computational Biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard University, he was a research scientist at the Center for Genome Research at the Whitehead Institute at MIT. Dr. Monti has developed a cutting-edge technology for rapidly and economically screening thousands of chemicals for their ability to influence expression of virtually all cancer-related signaling pathways within human cells, including but not limited to the AhR, the Wnt, and the NF-κB pathways. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has acknowledged that this type of high-throughput screening assay may be the only practical way to determine how we are affected by mixtures of environmental pollutants.
Charlotte Kuperwasser, PhD
Director, Tufts Convergence Laboratory of Biomedical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences
Professor Developmental, Molecular & Chemical Biology
Tufts University School of Medicine
Dr. Kuperwasser is the Director of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Convergence Laboratory at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Kuperwasser is an internationally recognized researcher with expertise in the biology of cancer stem cells, the cell subset likely responsible for cancer relapses and ultimately death, and in the role of the tumor microenvironment in malignant cell growth. She pioneered the development of a unique and enormously powerful mouse model in which discarded normal human breast cells are transplanted into the mammary glands of mice to study how these normal cells influence outgrowth of cancerous cells.
Dr. Sherr’s lab has demonstrated how the AHR (an environmental chemical receptor in the breast cell) induces the development of cancer stem cells in both breast and oral cancers, which invade tissues and migrate to the brain. They have also discovered that the AHR can be activated, causing cancer, by our own body’s bacteria (our “microbiome”) which has been altered by exposure to environmental chemicals.
Dr. Monti’s computational biology lab has added several hundred suspected carcinogens to its high throughput, genomic cancer-causing chemical predictive model. Since it’s initial development two years ago, this model has a predictability success rate approaching 85%.
Dr. Sonenshein’s lab has identified a unique signaling pathway that promotes the migration and metastasis of breast cancer. Further, they have developed a technology that detects residual breast cancer cells circulating in human blood and tells scientists what chemicals the human was exposed to.
Dr. Kupperwasser’s lab has generated preliminary data which indicates that estrogenmimicking chemicals dramatically alter the normal development path of human breast cells. This finding suggests that early exposure to these chemicals may cause healthy cells to transform into full blown malignancies.