Dr. Lucito aims to use an innovative method, called ROMA, that he developed to look at genetic alterations in the genome of ovarian cancer cells. ROMA identifies mutations in the genome where DNA content has been lost–removing genes vital for stopping cells from dividing–and also identifying regions that have been copied excessively or amplified resulting in many copies of a gene that signal the cell to divide. In his study, he will analyze a range of different tumors so he can determine the evolution of genetic changes as the disease progresses. Primary tumors will be compared to metastatic tissue, and, in some cases, metastatic tissue after chemotherapy. From studying such samples, he hopes to identify biomarker gene regions that will be predictors of tumor aggressiveness, response to treatment, chemotherapy resistance, and survival. Also, the regions identified will be important to further characterize the molecular mechanisms behind epithelial ovarian cancer. By identifying the regions that are lost or amplified he can search these regions for genes important in the control of the cell which normally keeps its growth in check.
Dr. Lucito is an Assistant Professor at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. He received his PhD from NYU in 1993.