Reprogramming in the tumor microenvironment

Dr. Ruth Scherz-Shouval, Department of Biomolecular Sciences

Dr. Scherz-Shouval examines how cancer cells recruit and subvert normal cells to create an environment that promotes tumor progression and metastasis. She has demonstrated that heat-shock factor 1 (HSF1), the master regulator of the heat-shock response to thermal stress, helps reprogram fibroblasts—cells responsible for making the extracellular matrix and collagen—thereby promoting cancer growth. In collaboration with clinicians in Boston in Israel, Dr. Scherz-Shouval demonstrated that in early-stage breast and lung cancer, high stromal HSF1 activation is strongly associated with poor patient outcome. In another aspect of her work, Dr. Scherz-Shouval is looking how a diversity of cell types within tumors can contribute to therapeutic resistance.  She is also examining complex interactions within the tumor microenvironment, demonstrating how a combination of environmental cues and signals from neighboring malignant cells can “turn” a normal cell toward cancer.