Catherine Ibarra Drendall
University/Institution: Duke University Medical Center
Hometown: Wake Forest, NC
Project Name: Diversity Supplement on ECM-mediated apoptosis in p53(-) HMECs
Research Interests: Development of biomarkers of risk to breast cancer, Response to chemotherapy or targeted agents
Mentor: Victoria Seewaldt, M.D.
I was initially interested in healthcare, as a result of my positive nursing assistant experiences at Hawaii's Kaiser Permanente Medical Center. However, this interest changed when I was introduced to various interesting science courses and research rotation at the Seattle University. I wanted to learn more about the biological and chemical consequences of certain phenomena. This thirst for new knowledge led me to the University of Washington where I studied the structural and functional role of important active-site residues in glutathione S-transferases. Under the tutelage of late Dr. Joseph Shore at the Henry Ford Health Syestem, I learned the kinetics and functional role of certain reactive center loop residues in the plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. Although this training equipped me with valuable research tools and insights on protein-protein interactions, I wanted to learn how to translate my research to medicine. To this end, I sought another postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Seewaldt at the Duke University Medical Center where I learned breast cancer risk assessment, biomarker development, and apoptotic signaling.
As a recently appointed junior faculty, my goal is to establish an independent program in breast cancer research with special emphasis on the identification of cell signaling proteins that may play an important role in early mammary carcinogenesis and/or resistance to targeted agents. This research focus is part of my ultimate goal of contributing to the cure and prevention of breast cancer.