Christina Towers, Ph.D.


Christina Towers, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
10010 N. Torrey Pines Road
City, State, ZIP
La Jolla, CA 92037-1002
858-453-4100, ext.1342
[email protected]
Research field
Cancer Biology
Award year


The Towers lab will explore how cancer cells adapt their metabolic processes to resist therapy. Cancers have the remarkable ability to adjust to diverse conditions, even when certain essential processes are turned off. My lab recently discovered that when the metabolic recycling process known as autophagy is blocked in cancer cells, a small proportion of cells will continue to grow and can sidestep this critical pathway. To determine how cancer cells adapt and maneuver their metabolic switches to survive, my lab will first build an optogenetic system—a method to rapidly control autophagy using light. We will combine a genetic barcoding system and single-cell RNA sequencing techniques to identify the population of cancer cells that are poised for adaptation and the alternate metabolic pathways that are adopted by these cells to resist therapy. Work from the lab could uncover a novel mechanism driving acquired cancer resistance and offer new insights on approaches to prevent and control resistance before it takes shape.

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