David H. Sherr, PhD, Consortium Director

David H. Sherr, PhD, Consortium Director

Professor of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health; Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, BU School of Medicine; Co-Director of the Interception Group in the Boston Medical Center/Boston University Cancer Center; Former Director, Boston University Superfund Research Program

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.

Full Profile: Dr. Sherr

Gail E. Sonenshein, PhD

Gail E. Sonenshein, PhD

Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, Developmental, Molecular & Chemical Biology

She is highly cited and internationally recognized for her research on the cellular mechanisms promoting breast cancer. At Boston University, Dr. Sonenshein co-Founded and served as the first Director of the Center for Research on Women’s Health, a center dedicated to determining the underlying causes of breast cancer and other diseases affecting women. Her laboratory was the first to demonstrate inappropriate activation of NF-kB transcription factors by environmental carcinogens and their role in promoting cancer growth and survival, including the activation of a cell surface protein called ADAM8. In addition to targeting ADAM8 for breast cancer treatment, a major focus of her current efforts is to determine how environmental chemicals promote tumor formation. In particular, she is focusing on the roles of small signaling molecules called microRNAs to evaluate whether they can serve as markers of exposure. 


Full Profile: Dr. Sonenshein

Stefano Monti, PhD

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.

Full Profile: Dr. Monti

Charlotte Kuperwasser, PhD

Charlotte Kuperwasser, PhD

Director, Tufts Convergence Laboratory of Biomedical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences; Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, Developmental, Molecular & Chemical Biology

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.

Full Profile: Dr. Kuperwasser

Basic Biology

Basic Biology

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.

Computational Biology

Computational Biology

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%.

Molecular Biology

Molecular Biology

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.

Cellular Biology

Cellular Biology

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.