Duke University School of Medicine, USA
The long-term goal of Dr. Pendergast’s research is to define the pathways that integrate activation of diverse cell surface receptors to the regulation of cell polarity, migration, and invasion during normal development and cancer, with emphasis on the role of the Abl family of tyrosine kinases and their targets. Dr. Pendergast interest in oncogenic tyrosine kinases began during her postdoctoral training at UCLA with Dr. Owen Witte where she made seminal discoveries that defined the critical pathways employed by the Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase to induce human leukemias. In 1992 Dr. Pendergast joined Duke University where she rose through the ranks to tenured Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology. Dr. Pendergast’s scientific contributions have been recognized with numerous awards including the First Whitehead Scholar Award, Scholar of the Leukemia Society of America, the Gertrude Elion Cancer Research Award, the Frank Rose Memorial Lecture Award from the British and Irish Associations for Cancer Research, and Stohlman Scholar Award, and was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Pendergast has served in several NIH study section panels and was a member of the NCI Board of Scientific Counselors-Basic Science of the National Cancer Institute. Pendergast and her team unexpectedly found that Abl kinases are hyperactivated in a subset of human breast cancer subtypes and are required for metastasis. This work may extend the use of approved and novel kinase inhibitors for treatment of tumors and other pathological conditions that employ Abl family kinases to invade target tissues.