Fall 2013

Lens On Cancer Research

Special microscope will allow scientists to observe interaction of molecules thought to contribute to development of the disease

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Naomi Rosenberg, dean of the Sackler School, says new grants will advance cancer research at Tufts. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Tufts breast cancer researchers received substantial grants from a pair of sponsoring organizations at separate events in Boston in May.

Ana Soto—who, together with Carlos Sonnenschein, was the first to sound the alarm about the presence of estrogen-mimicking compounds in household plastic—was awarded a $450,000 grant from the Avon Foundation for Women on May 19. The funding will support the work of the two longtime collaborators investigating the role of natural hormones and environmental chemicals in the development of breast cancer.

Soto and Sonnenschein, both professors in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Pathobiology, have been studying how sex hormones regulate cell proliferation and how environmental contaminants may interfere with those processes.

Prominent leukemia researcher Naomi Rosenberg, dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, and breast cancer specialist John Erban, ’81, professor of medicine, were the recipients of a grant from the Aid for Cancer Research on May 23 that will fund the purchase of a state-of-the-art inverted microscope sure to prove valuable in the work of a number of scientists within the Tufts community.

The new microscope—capable of displaying fluorescence resonance energy transfer in live cells—will let researchers directly observe the interaction of molecules with each other, says Rosenberg, who notes the device will benefit eight scientists around Tufts.

Erban is an internationally recognized expert in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. He is the clinical director and associate director for clinical research at the Tufts Cancer Center.

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