Nikki Cheng, PhD

Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Division of Cancer and Developmental Biology
PhD: Vanderbilt University 2002
Post-doctoral: Vanderbilt University, 2003-2008


Publications: Click here

My laboratory is interested in investigating the functions of stromal fibroblasts in the tumor microenvironment during breast cancer progression. Fibroblasts are a major cellular component of the tumor microenvironment and influence cancer cell behavior directly and indirectly through secretion of soluble factors, including growth regulators and angiogenic factors. While genetic alterations in breast fibroblasts may exert pro-tumorigenic effects, little is known of the cellular and molecular signals that regulate fibroblast functions in the tumor microenvironment.

Studies in my laboratory suggest that fibroblasts may interact with breast cancer cells to regulate cancer cell motility and invasion through chemokines signaling.   Chemokines are a family of soluble proteins which signal to seven transmembrane G coupled receptors and regulate immune cell recruitment during inflammatory responses and defense against foreign pathogens.  Studies in our laboratory indicate that CCL2 and CXCL1 chemokine signaling may also regulate fibroblast interactions with other cell types in the microenvironment to promote tumor progression.  Using multiple approaches including mouse models of cancer, molecular biology, biochemistry and cell culture systems, we are interested in:

  • Understanding the mechanisms through which chemokines regulate fibroblast : cancer cell interactions during cancer progression
  • Understanding the mechanisms through which chemokines regulate fibroblast mediated immune cell recruitment
  • Identifying the signaling pathways regulated by chemokine signaling in the breast cancer microenvironment
  • Identifying the regulatory mechanisms of chemokine expression

Ultimately, we are interested in understanding the functions of stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment and the impact of the tumor microenvironment on metastatic spread. By identifying and understanding the molecular signals that create a tumor permissive environment, these studies may contribute to identifying new molecular targets for therapy and to developing improved methods for diagnosing and treating metastatic breast cancer. 

Cheng Lab

Nikki Cheng, PhD
University of Kansas Medical Center
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
3901 Rainbow Blvd
Mailstop 3045
Kansas City, KS 66160

Lab: Lied 3001
Office: 913-945-6773
Lab: 913-945-6772
Fax: 913-945-6650

Current Cheng Lab Members (as of Autumn, 2014):

Wei Bin Fang, PhD, postdoctoral fellow
wfang@kumc.edu

Benford Mafuvadze, postdoctoral fellow
bmafuvadze@kumc.edu

Min Yao, graduate student
myao2@kumc.edu

Michael Portsche, Research Assistant
mportsche@kumc.edu

 

Last modified: Oct 09, 2014

Contact

Nikki Cheng, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Division of Cancer and Developmental Biology

P: 913-945-6773 / Lab:913-945-6772
ncheng@kumc.edu

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