Bio: Christina is a senior Biomedical Sciences graduate student in the Perera Lab. During her Ph.D., she received an NSF graduate research fellowship in 2014 and was awarded an F31 Ruth L. Kirchstein Predoctoral Fellowship in 2018. Prior to coming to UCSF, she attended California State University, Fullerton where she conducted undergraduate research as a MARC scholar studying antibiotic resistance. She has continued participating in the MARC program as an alumni member mentoring current scholars. Outside of the lab, Christina enjoys playing volleyball, binge watching TV shows and spending time with her newborn daughter.
Current work: Christina is studying how pancreatic tumors differ from each other and how that may impact treatment options and patient outcomes. More specifically, pancreatic cancer is a remarkably heterogenous disease and the goal of Christina’s research is to understand the molecular underpinnings of what makes some tumors more aggressive than others. For example, a particularly aggressive variant of the disease termed “Basal-like” pancreatic cancer results in shorter survival outcomes in the clinic. Christina’s work suggests that this tumor type is driven by the GLI2 transcription factor, which serves as a “master regulator” of this subtype. She is interested in how GLI2 rewires pancreatic cancer cells to become more aggressive and if this pathway could be targeted therapeutically. Her work will be important for our understanding of the molecular basis of tumor heterogeneity in pancreatic and potentially other cancers as well.