2012 Early Career Investigator Grant Recipient — Ivan Garcia-Bassets, PhD
Chemotherapy resistance is a major obstacle to the successful treatment of ovarian cancer patients. Initially responsive, most ovarian tumors become drug resistant after successive rounds of standard chemotherapy. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of chemoresistance acquisition is key to develop new drugs that resensitize tumor cells to existing chemotherapy. In preliminary studies, Dr. Garcia-Bassets found that a regimen of cisplatin treatment in cultured ovarian epithelial cancer cells cause significant alterations in the levels of histone lysine methylation throughout the human genome affecting specific gene programs associated to cell survival and predisposition to chemoresistance. Lysine methylation of histones is a type of epigenetic (heritable) regulatory process that influences the levels of gene expression. In his study, Dr. Garcia-Bassets plans to fully characterize this cisplatin-mediated epigenetic response, identify the enzymatic activities that control this process, and test whether their suppression dismantles the drug resistant response. This proposal is expected to determine the value of pharmacologically targeting histone lysine methylation as a promising strategy to resensitize tumor cells to chemotherapy.
Dr. Garcia-Bassets joined the Faculty of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine as Assistant Research Scientist in the summer of 2007. He is a molecular biologist with 10 years of experience in the study of gene transcription regulation at genome-wide scale. His laboratory interests are focused on uncovering transcriptional regulatory mechanisms that orchestrate cell identity transitions implicated in cancer progression to malignancy and chemotherapy escape. The overall goal of his laboratory is to facilitate rapid development of effective treatments to overcome metastasis and drug resistance in ovarian cancer cells. Dr. Garcia-Bassets completed his Ph.D. training at the Consejo Superior of Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC)-Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), and postdoctoral training at UCSD under supervision of Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, Dr. Michael G. Rosenfeld. In addition to his 2012 Liz Tilberis Award from OCRF, Dr. Garcia-Bassets was previously recipient of two grants from the Department of Defense (DoD). As recipient of the OCRF Award, Dr. Garcia-Bassets is on his way to establishing a career in ovarian cancer research.