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Johnson Cancer Research Center

Dr. Jocelyn McDonald

Division of Biology
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In advanced stages of solid cancers, cells undergo metastasis, where cells break off of the tumor, enter the bloodstream and populate distant organs. Metastasis of tumors leads to devastating patient outcomes. Therefore, it is of fundamental importance to understand how cells break off from tumors and subsequently move through (invade) tissues to metastasize. The McDonald lab uses the powerful genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) to identify genes required for cell movement and invasion. The genes discovered in this model are highly similar to those in human cancer. These genes represent potential therapeutic targets for treating highly invasive cancers. In collaboration with a lab at the Cleveland Clinic, the McDonald lab is using their Drosophila cell migration model to specifically identify genes that promote invasion of gliobastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor.