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Cancer Center Member

Thomas Volpe, PhD

Academic Title:
Assistant Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology; Feinberg School of Medicine

Member of:
Cancer Cell Biology

Email:
t-volpe2@northwestern.edu

Publications:(9)
View Publications Listing

Cancer Focused Research:

Heterochromatin has been implicated in many diverse cellular processes including stem cell function, DNA replication and chromosome segregation. In addition, the role of heterochromatin in regulation of epigenetic phenomena (heritable changes in gene expression that do not result from altered nucleotide sequence), such as dosage compensation and imprinting, is well established and has been recognized in a very broad range of eukaryotic species. The mechanisms cells use to establish and maintain heterochromatin, however, are not fully understood. Dr. Volpe and colleagues previously demonstrated that a process known as RNA interference (RNAi) is involved in targeting assembly of heterochromatin to specific regions of the genome. The specificity of this targeting is tightly regulated since improper activation of genes within these regions, or inactivation of genes outside these regions, can result in various forms of human disease including cancer. The main goals of the Volpe lab are to understand how specific chromosomal regions become targeted for silencing and, in particular, the role RNAi plays in this process. This knowledge could lead to treatments for human disease as well as new experimental tools to study gene function.