Associate Professor, Departments of Oncology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Scientific Director, CIHR Institure of Cancer Research
Cumming School of Medicine
3330 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 4N1
Area of Research:
The Robbins lab is interested in determining how extracellular signals are communicated to the cell to control such essential biological processes as the growth and differentiaion of eukaryotic cells. We have been particular interested in the role that the Scr-family of protein tyrosine kinases play in these cellular processes and we have examined both upstream and downstream components of the Scr-family kinases. In addition, we have focused on how compartmentalized signaling influences the phenotypic outcomes of particular extracellular signals.
The research in my laboratory focuses on how extracellular signals are transmitted to the nucleus to control such biological processes as growth and differentiation of eukaryotic cells. An elaborate circuitry of biochemical reactions mediates the proliferation and differentiation of mammalian cells. We have gained access to this circuitry through the study of genes implicated in the genesis of human cancer: "proto-oncogenes", which suffer genetic damage in cancer cells leading to an unwanted gain of function. Proto-oncogenes serve as accelerators leading the cell into relentless cell division. Many of the proteins encoded by proto-oncogenes serve as relays in the biochemical pathways that transmit signals from the surface of the cell to the nucleus. Several of the genes encode protein kinases that phosphorylate proteins on tyrosine residues. The understanding of how these molecules participate in various signal transduction pathways to control such biological processes as cellular proliferation and differentiation are essential for us to fully understand the biochemical maladies of cancer.
The specific research aims in my laboratory include:
1. To determine the role of the Src-family protein tyrosine kinases during the differentiation and activation of hematopoietic cells. To this end we are identifying upstream and downstream components of the Src signalling pathways.
2. To determine how compartmentalized signalling within the cell influences phenotypic outcomes of particular extracellular signals. We have previously shown that Src family kinases and other signalling molecules are localized on caveolae: what is the function of this enigmatic organelle?
Molecular and experimental therapeutics for cancer