Dr. Schoenfeld's Lab Web Page

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The focus of the lab
The My research focuses on cancer genetics, specifically on a class of genes that are known as tumor suppressor genes.  Currently work on in my laboratory focuses on the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene.  Investigations are centered on uncovering the normal functions of this gene and learning how mutations in it can cause cancer.

What are tumor suppressor genes?  SEM
Genes that cause cancer can be roughly grouped into 2 categories: oncogenes and tumor suppressors.  Oncogenes are normal cellular genes which cause cancer only when they become overactive (through mutation, over-expression, amplification, etc.).  On the contrary, tumor suppressor genes are genes that normally block cancer.  Cancer occurs when these tumor suppressors are inactivated (usually through mutation or silencing).  Many of the known tumor suppressor genes have been discovered by studying families in which a large number of members have a particular cancer (familial cancer syndromes).  Often, these families have a mutation in a tumor suppressor gene which is passed down through the generations.

Genetics of tumor suppressors
For most tumor suppressor genes, both copies (alleles) need to be inactivated before tumors are formed.  Individuals that develop these familial cancers usually inherit only one mutant copy (from either parent) of the tumor suppressor gene.  The other normal (wild-type) allele is often lost in a single cell, leaving it with no functional copies of the tumor suppressor.  This initiates the carcinogenic process in this cell.  Mutations in other genes must occur for the cell to become fully malignant and develop into a tumor.

CeZO-1 stainingllular approach to cancer 
Most tumors are clonal outgrowths of a single malignant cell.  In my lab, we study the earliest events in cancer that cause these single cells to lose their normal growth control.  The approach taken consists of a blend of cell biology, genetics, and molecular biology.  Some of the student projects involve creating and expressing mutant VHL proteins and determining their effects in cells.  We are also utilizing RNA interference to block the expression of specific genes and then analyzing the cellular effects.  Specific techniques that are learned and utilized in my lab include Western blotting, immunoprecipitation, microscopy (including immunofluorescence), molecular cloning (PCR, restriction digests, etc.), and cell culture (transfection and retroviral infection, selection, growth assays, DNA damage assays, and more).

My students
Currently, my lab has a number of undergraduate and graduate (Master’s level) students who carry out the bulk of the research (with a little help from me) either on a volunteer basis or for course credit.  My lab is open to Adelphi students in the biology program, following my approval.  (If you are not currently an Adelphi undergraduate biology major or in our graduate (M.S.) biology program and want to find out more about these programs, please click on the links).  Because space is limited, I am looking for students who are sincerely interested in performing research and are willing to commit the time and energy necessary to succeed.

last modified on 6-23-11