Laurie Littlepage, Campbell Family Associate Professor of Cancer Research, has been awarded a 2022 METAvivor Translational Research Award. METAvivor is a non-profit organization that funds research applicable to stage IV metastatic breast cancer, and for 2022, they have awarded 27 grants totaling $5.75 million.
Littlepage was selected for her proposal entitled “Targeting Endocrine Therapy Resistance in Bone Metastasis.” Over 95% of breast cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, with bone being the most common metastasis site. Using integrated mouse models and genome-wide association studies, her lab works to identify how multiple cell types, proteins, and metabolites interact together to regulate cancer progression, including metastasis and resistance to therapy.
Littlepage’s lab has identified that the gene ZNF217 is prognostic of poorer outcomes in breast cancer patients. They discovered that ZNF217, growth factors, and their associated signaling pathways change the expression of certain metabolic regulating genes, leading to cancer cell resistance to endocrine therapies currently used to treat ER+ breast cancer. This METAvivor award will allow Littlepage to investigate strategies to overcome ZNF217-induced endocrine therapy resistance with the goal of achieving new therapies to more effectively treat this type of cancer.
Littlepage joined the faculty at Notre Dame in 2012. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco after receiving her Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University and her B.S. in biochemistry and B.S. in molecular biology from the University of Texas, Austin. She is the recipient of several awards including the 2020 Coaches vs. Cancer Celebration of Hope Award, the 2020 Inspiration Award from the American Cancer Society, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award, and an Indiana CTSI Young Investigator Award.