Der is considered one of the world’s leading experts on the RAS family of oncogenes and their role in driving cancer-cell growth. He serves as the Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Der will present his lecture, titled “Biological Activity of Ras Oncoprotein,” at 11 a.m. Friday, May 27, in Room 201 of LaTourette Hall. The talk is open to the public.
The broad goal of Der’s research laboratory at UNC is to delineate the molecular basis of cancer and to identify novel approaches for cancer treatment. One major focus is on the Ras oncoproteins, which are key regulators of signal transduction pathways that control normal cell growth and differentiation. Mutationally activated Ras proteins are found in 30 percent of all human cancers and are validated drivers of cancer cell growth, invasion and metastasis.
Studies by Der’s laboratory focus on neoplasms with high frequency RAS mutations in cancers of the pancreas, colon, lung and skin.
RAS was the first gene identified to be mutated in human cancers—a discovery made by Der in 1982, according to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Researchers now know hundreds of genes are mutated in cancers.
Der’s laboratory is currently funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the Lustgarten Foundation, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network-AACR and the U.S. Department of Defense. He has authored over 300 publications and is the holder of six patents. He also has mentored dozens of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.
Der received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, and completed his postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“We’re thrilled to welcome to campus Dr. Der, who has conducted pioneering work illuminating our understanding of the mechanisms of cancer and remains on the cutting-edge of cancer research,” said Presidential Research Professor Elizabeth Gaillard, director of NIU Center for Biochemical and Biophysical Studies. “Cancer touches everyone’s lives, and his lecture promises to be of wide interest.”
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