FIP Virtual Seminar: Causes and consequences of heterogeneity in proliferation-quiescence decisions

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Wed, 10/07/2020 - 12:00 to 13:00

Dr. Sabrina Spencer


Dr. Sabrina Spencer, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, University of Colorado Boulder


How do mammalian cells make the choice between proliferation (cell-cycle progression) and quiescence (cell-cycle exit)?  Correct execution of the proliferation-quiescence decision is important in many biological settings, from developmental processes to adult tissue homeostasis, and dysregulation of this decision occurs in nearly all cancer types.  Despite obvious scientific import and medical relevance, we have a poor understanding of how cells transition between proliferation and quiescence.  To tackle these issues, we have developed new single-cell methods, including novel fluorescent biosensors, multi-day time-lapse microscopy, and automated single-cell tracking, providing us a longitudinal, multigenerational view of cell-cycle behavior.  In my seminar, I will describe our work toward understanding the inputs that control the choice between proliferation and quiescence, when during the cell cycle cells integrate the presence or absence of these inputs, and how cancer cells rapidly rewire this program to escape quiescence induced by targeted cancer therapies.   

Sabrina Spencer earned her PhD in Computational and Systems Biology from MIT in 2009. During her PhD, she worked in Peter Sorger's lab on non-genetic origins of cell-to-cell variability in apoptosis. She then pursued postdoctoral studies in Tobias Meyer's lab at Stanford University where she explored the molecular basis of the restriction point using live-cell microscopy. In August 2014, Sabrina became an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado - Boulder. In 2016, Sabrina was named a Searle Scholar, a Kimmel Scholar, a Beckman Young Investigator, a Boettcher Early Career Investigator, in 2017, a Pew-Stewart Scholar, and in 2018, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar and an NIH Director's New Innovator.