Graduate Studies Faculty

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Pepper Schedin, Ph.D.

Professor
Admin Unit: SOM-Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology Department
Programs:
Cell & Developmental Biology
Program in Molecular & Cellular Biosciences
Cancer Biology
Research Interests:
young women's breast cancer, breast cancer prevention, metastasis, tumor micro-environment, immune suppression, extracellular matrix, fibrosis, 3D cell culture modeling, ECM proteomics,
Preceptor Rotations
Academic Term Available Winter 2017 Yes
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Schedin is available as a mentor for 2016-2017.
Profile

The focus of the Schedin Lab research program is on understanding how normal breast development contributes to breast cancer risk and patient outcomes. We focus on the unique windows of breast development that occur during puberty, pregnancy and peri-menopause, as these developmental windows associate with high risk for breast cancer development and progression. Because tissue remodeling is the hallmark of these risk windows, our lab focuses on mammary epithelial-stromal interactions and how these interactions are modulated by physiology and life choices. My lab is at the forefront of investigating the normal mammary gland tissue environment and has shown that extracellular matrix proteins and immune cells are highly malleable, remodeling in response to puberty, pregnancy, menopause and even dietary intake. This stromal ‘plasticity’ contributes significantly to breast cancer risk, but also identifies unique developmental windows that can be targeted for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Current areas of research focus include understanding how pregnancy or menopause/diet interactions increase risk for breast cancer progression. From a prevention perspective, the strength in this ‘window of risk’ approach lies in the ability to limit duration of treatment, thus reducing treatment-related side effects associated with current breast cancer chemoprevention strategies. From a treatment perspective, our work identifies novel stromal markers, as well as potential drivers of breast cancers diagnosed in specific ‘developmental windows’ such as pregnancy and menopause, which can be exploited for targeted drug development. For our studies we utilize the rat MNU model, breast cancer xenograft, transgenic, and immunocompetent mouse models, 3D multi-cell co-culture systems, and human breast tissue. Our systems approach has yielded promising results for prevention and treatment of pregnancy-associated breast cancer and obesity-induced postmenopausal breast cancer.