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Major Research Interests

The mission of the UW Colon and Rectal Surgery Laboratory is two-fold. First we hope to contribute positively to the understanding of the etiology of colon and rectal cancer. We hope that these contributions will ultimately lead to not only a better understanding of behaviors that modify risk for cancer, but also to novel therapies that will ultimately improve outcomes. Second, we strive to provide an outstanding training environment in which we will train the next generation of both surgeons and scientists.

Our lab is interested in understanding how environmental exposures modulate the risk for colon and rectal cancer. In particular, we are studying the role of the Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) proteins in colon and rectal cancer. PAS proteins are a family of environmentally responsive proteins that have multiple functions including, but not limited to, response to environmental toxins such as the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and modulation of the circadian clock. We are particularly interested in understanding how these proteins might contribute to GI cancers. We use mouse models to study the cell autonomous effects of these proteins in the GI tract. We also use these models to investigate the mechanism of action of agents that activate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and are used to prevent colon cancer. Finally, we are interested in understanding the role of traditional AHR signaling in the etiology of colon and rectal cancer.

Clinical Practice and Additional Research

The clinical research program of our lab is focused on improving surgical quality. We use large national databases to perform comparative effectiveness type of research projects in order to understand how operative approach may improve short-term outcomes. In addition, we are interested in understanding how these short term postoperative outcomes might contribute to long term oncologic outcomes in patients with colon and rectal cancers.


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