Romel Somwar

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, New York, United States

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Publications (38)237.14 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The spatiotemporal dynamics of triglyceride (TG) storage in unilocular adipocytes is not well understood. Here we applied ex vivo technology to study trafficking and metabolism of fluorescent fatty acid in adipose tissue explants. Live imaging revealed multiple cytoplasmic nodules surrounding the large central lipid droplet (cLD) of unilocular adipocytes. Each cytoplasmic nodule harbors a series of closely associated cellular organelles, including microlipid droplets (mLDs), mitochondria, and the endoplasmic reticulum. Exogenously added free fatty acids are rapidly adsorbed by mLDs and concurrently get esterified to TG. This process is greatly accelerated by insulin. mLDs transfer their content to the cLD, serving as intermediates that mediate packaging of newly synthesized TG in the large interior of a unilocular adipocyte. This study reveals novel cell biological features that may contribute to the mechanism of adipocyte hypertrophy.
    Molecular biology of the cell. 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Identifying physical interactions between proteins and other molecules is a critical aspect of biological analysis. Here we describe PLATO, an in vitro method for mapping such interactions by affinity enrichment of a library of full-length open reading frames displayed on ribosomes, followed by massively parallel analysis using DNA sequencing. We demonstrate the broad utility of the method for human proteins by identifying known and previously unidentified interacting partners of LYN kinase, patient autoantibodies, and the small-molecules gefitinib and dasatinib.
    Nature Biotechnology 03/2013; · 32.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We previously described four small molecules that reduced the growth of lung adenocarcinoma cell lines with either epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or KRAS mutations in a high-throughout chemical screen. By combining affinity proteomics and gene expression analysis, we now propose superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) as the most likely target of one of these small molecules, referred to as lung cancer screen 1 (LCS-1). siRNAs against SOD1 slowed the growth of LCS-1 sensitive cell lines; conversely, expression of a SOD1 cDNA increased proliferation of H358 cells and reduced sensitivity of these cells to LCS-1. In addition, SOD1 enzymatic activity was inhibited in vitro by LCS-1 and two closely related analogs. These results suggest that SOD1 is an LCS-1-binding protein that may act in concert with mutant proteins, such as EGFR and KRAS, to promote cell growth, providing a therapeutic target for compounds like LCS-1.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2011; 108(39):16375-80. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) that harbor mutations within the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene are sensitive to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib and erlotinib. Unfortunately, all patients treated with these drugs will acquire resistance, most commonly as a result of a secondary mutation within EGFR (T790M). Because both drugs were developed to target wild-type EGFR, we hypothesized that current dosing schedules were not optimized for mutant EGFR or to prevent resistance. To investigate this further, we developed isogenic TKI-sensitive and TKI-resistant pairs of cell lines that mimic the behavior of human tumors. We determined that the drug-sensitive and drug-resistant EGFR-mutant cells exhibited differential growth kinetics, with the drug-resistant cells showing slower growth. We incorporated these data into evolutionary mathematical cancer models with constraints derived from clinical data sets. This modeling predicted alternative therapeutic strategies that could prolong the clinical benefit of TKIs against EGFR-mutant NSCLCs by delaying the development of resistance.
    Science translational medicine 07/2011; 3(90):90ra59. · 10.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lipid droplets form the storage reservoirs for lipids in adipocytes, and their stable appearance suggests a static nature of lipid storage. A stable lipid store, however, may be maintained through the dynamic recycling of lipid cargo between the cytoplasmic compartment and the lipid droplet. In this study, we applied live-cell microscopy to follow intracellular transport steps of fluorescently labeled fatty acids in differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes. We demonstrate that intracellular lipids continuously exit and re-enter lipid droplets, and that individual lipid droplets exchange their content on a timescale of minutes. These data demonstrate a surprisingly high rate of intracellular lipid turnover in adipocytes and support the novel concept that lipid storage is achieved by dynamic recycling rather than static retention.
    FEBS letters 06/2011; 585(12):1946-50. · 3.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To obtain estimates of human normal-organ radiation doses of ¹⁸F-SKI-249380, as a prerequisite step towards first-in-human trial. ¹⁸F-SKI-249380 is a first-of-its-kind PET tracer for imaging the in vivo pharmacokinetics of dasatinib, an investigational targeted therapy for solid malignancies. Isoflurane-anesthetized mice received tracer dose via tail vein. Organ time-integrated activity coefficients, fractional urinary and hepatobiliary excretion, and total-body clearance kinetics were derived from PET data, with allometric extrapolation to the Standard Man anatomic model and normal-organ-absorbed dose calculations using OLINDA/EXM software. The human effective dose was 0.031 mSv/MBq. The critical organ was the upper large intestine, with a dose equivalent of 0.25 mSv/MBq. A 190-MBq administered activity of ¹⁸F-SKI-249380 is thus predicted to expose an adult human to radiation doses generally comparable to those of routinely used diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals. Animal-based human dose estimates support first-in-human testing of ¹⁸F-SKI-249380.
    Molecular imaging and biology: MIB: the official publication of the Academy of Molecular Imaging 12/2010; 14(1):25-31. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Increased body fat correlates with the enlargement of average fat cell size and reduced adipose tissue insulin sensitivity. It is currently unclear whether adipocytes, as they accumulate more triglycerides and grow in size, gradually become less insulin sensitive or whether obesity-related factors independently cause both the enlargement of adipocyte size and reduced adipose tissue insulin sensitivity. In the first instance, large and small adipocytes in the same tissue would exhibit differences in insulin sensitivity, whereas, in the second instance, adipocyte size per se would not necessarily correlate with insulin response. To analyze the effect of adipocyte size on insulin sensitivity, we employed a new single-cell imaging assay that resolves fatty acid uptake and insulin response in single adipocytes in subcutaneous adipose tissue explants. Here, we report that subcutaneous adipocytes are heterogeneous in size and intrinsic insulin sensitivity. Whereas smaller adipocytes respond to insulin by increasing lipid uptake, adipocytes with cell diameters larger than 80-100 microm are insulin resistant. We propose that, when cell size approaches a critical boundary, adipocytes lose insulin-dependent fatty acid transport. This negative feedback mechanism may protect adipocytes from lipid overload and restrict further expansion of adipose tissue, which leads to obesity and metabolic complications.
    AJP Endocrinology and Metabolism 09/2010; 299(3):E486-96. · 4.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Drug treatment for human lung cancers remains unsatisfactory, despite the identification of many potential therapeutic targets (such as mutant KRAS protein) and the approval of agents that inhibit the tyrosine kinase activity of mutant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). To seek new therapeutic strategies against lung tumors, the authors have screened 189,290 small molecules for their ability to retard growth of human lung adenocarcinoma cell lines, which harbor mutations in EGFR or KRAS. Four candidates that are structurally different from common tyrosine kinase inhibitors were selected for further study. The authors describe one small molecule (designated lung cancer screen-1 [LCS-1]) in detail here. Identification of the targets of LCS-1 and other growth inhibitors found in this screen may help to develop new agents for the treatment of lung adenocarcinomas, including those driven by mutant EGFR and KRAS.
    Journal of Biomolecular Screening 11/2009; 14(10):1176-84. · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To address the biological heterogeneity of lung cancer, we studied 199 lung adenocarcinomas by integrating genome-wide data on copy number alterations and gene expression with full annotation for major known somatic mutations in this cancer. This showed non-random patterns of copy number alterations significantly linked to EGFR and KRAS mutation status and to distinct clinical outcomes, and led to the discovery of a striking association of EGFR mutations with underexpression of DUSP4, a gene within a broad region of frequent single-copy loss on 8p. DUSP4 is involved in negative feedback control of EGFR signaling, and we provide functional validation for its role as a growth suppressor in EGFR-mutant lung adenocarcinoma. DUSP4 loss also associates with p16/CDKN2A deletion and defines a distinct clinical subset of lung cancer patients. Another novel observation is that of a reciprocal relationship between EGFR and LKB1 mutations. These results highlight the power of integrated genomics to identify candidate driver genes within recurrent broad regions of copy number alteration and to delineate distinct oncogenetic pathways in genetically complex common epithelial cancers.
    Oncogene 07/2009; 28(31):2773-83. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene are associated with increased sensitivity of lung cancers to kinase inhibitors like erlotinib. Mechanisms of cell death that occur after kinase inhibition in these oncogene-dependent tumors have not been well delineated. We sought to improve understanding of this process in order to provide insight into mechanisms of sensitivity and/or resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors and to uncover new targets for therapy. Using a panel of human lung cancer cell lines that harbor EGFR mutations and a variety of biochemical, molecular, and cellular techniques, we show that EGFR kinase inhibition in drug-sensitive cells provokes apoptosis via the intrinsic pathway of caspase activation. The process requires induction of the proapoptotic BH3-only BCL2 family member BIM (i.e., BCL2-like 11, or BCL2L11); erlotinib dramatically induces BIM levels in sensitive but not in resistant cell lines, and knockdown of BIM expression by RNA interference virtually eliminates drug-induced cell killing in vitro. BIM status is regulated at both transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels and is influenced by the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling cascade downstream of EGFR. Consistent with these findings, lung tumors and xenografts from mice bearing mutant EGFR-dependent lung adenocarcinomas display increased concentrations of Bim after erlotinib treatment. Moreover, an inhibitor of antiapoptotic proteins, ABT-737, enhances erlotinib-induced cell death in vitro. In drug-sensitive EGFR mutant lung cancer cells, induction of BIM is essential for apoptosis triggered by EGFR kinase inhibitors. This finding implies that the intrinsic pathway of caspase activation may influence sensitivity and/or resistance of EGFR mutant lung tumor cells to EGFR kinase inhibition. Manipulation of the intrinsic pathway could be a therapeutic strategy to enhance further the clinical outcomes of patients with EGFR mutant lung tumors.
    PLoS Medicine 11/2007; 4(10):e294. · 15.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In patients whose lung adenocarcinomas harbor epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase domain mutations, acquired resistance to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva) has been associated with a second-site EGFR mutation, which leads to substitution of methionine for threonine at position 790 (T790M). We aimed to elucidate the frequency and nature of secondary EGFR mutations in patients with acquired resistance to TKI monotherapy. Tumor cells from patients with acquired resistance were examined for secondary EGFR kinase domain mutations by molecular analyses. Eight of 16 patients (50% observed rate; 95% confidence interval, 25-75%) had tumor cells with second-site EGFR mutations. Seven mutations were T790M and one was a novel D761Y mutation found in a brain metastasis. When combined with a drug-sensitive L858R mutation, the D761Y mutation modestly reduced the sensitivity of mutant EGFR to TKIs in both surrogate kinase and cell viability assays. In an autopsy case, the T790M mutation was found in multiple visceral metastases but not in a brain lesion. The T790M mutation is common in patients with acquired resistance. The limited spectrum of TKI-resistant mutations in EGFR, which binds to erlotinib in the active conformation, contrasts with a wider range of second-site mutations seen with acquired resistance to imatinib, which binds to ABL and KIT, respectively, in closed conformations. Collectively, our data suggest that the type and nature of kinase inhibitor resistance mutations may be influenced by both anatomic site and mode of binding to the kinase target.
    Clinical Cancer Research 12/2006; 12(21):6494-501. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lung adenocarcinomas from patients who respond to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors gefitinib (Iressa) or erlotinib (Tarceva) usually harbor somatic gain-of-function mutations in exons encoding the kinase domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Despite initial responses, patients eventually progress by unknown mechanisms of "acquired" resistance. We show that in two of five patients with acquired resistance to gefitinib or erlotinib, progressing tumors contain, in addition to a primary drug-sensitive mutation in EGFR, a secondary mutation in exon 20, which leads to substitution of methionine for threonine at position 790 (T790M) in the kinase domain. Tumor cells from a sixth patient with a drug-sensitive EGFR mutation whose tumor progressed on adjuvant gefitinib after complete resection also contained the T790M mutation. This mutation was not detected in untreated tumor samples. Moreover, no tumors with acquired resistance had KRAS mutations, which have been associated with primary resistance to these drugs. Biochemical analyses of transfected cells and growth inhibition studies with lung cancer cell lines demonstrate that the T790M mutation confers resistance to EGFR mutants usually sensitive to either gefitinib or erlotinib. Interestingly, a mutation analogous to T790M has been observed in other kinases with acquired resistance to another kinase inhibitor, imatinib (Gleevec). In patients with tumors bearing gefitinib- or erlotinib-sensitive EGFR mutations, resistant subclones containing an additional EGFR mutation emerge in the presence of drug. This observation should help guide the search for more effective therapy against a specific subset of lung cancers.
    PLoS Medicine 04/2005; 2(3):e73. · 15.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine whether adiponectin elicits glucose uptake via increased GLUT4 translocation and to investigate the metabolic fate of glucose in skeletal muscle cells treated with globular adiponectin. Basal and insulin-stimulated 2-deoxy-D: -[(3)H]glucose uptake, cell surface myc-tagged GLUT4 content, production of (14)CO(2) by oxidation of D: -[U-(14)C]glucose and [1-(14)C]oleate, and incorporation of D: -[U-(14)C]glucose into glycogen and lactate were measured in the presence and absence of globular adiponectin. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis revealed that L6 cells and rat skeletal muscle cells express AdipoR1 mRNA and protein. Globular adiponectin increased both GLUT4 translocation and glucose uptake by increasing the transport V(max) of glucose without altering the K(m). Interestingly, the incorporation of D: -[U-(14)C]glucose into glycogen under basal and insulin-stimulated conditions was significantly decreased by globular adiponectin, whereas lactate production was increased. Furthermore, globular adiponectin did not affect glucose oxidation, but enhanced phosphorylation of AMP kinase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase, and fatty acid oxidation. The present study is the first to show that globular adiponectin increases glucose uptake in skeletal muscle cells via GLUT4 translocation and subsequently reduces the rate of glycogen synthesis and shifts glucose metabolism toward lactate production. These effects are consistent with the increased phosphorylation of AMP kinase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase and oxidation of fatty acids induced by globular adiponectin.
    Diabetologia 02/2005; 48(1):132-9. · 6.49 Impact Factor
  • Romel Somwar, Xiangping Fang, Gary Sweeney
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    ABSTRACT: Type 2 diabetes is associated with many health complications making it imperative to understand the mechanisms responsible for insulin resistance. An epidemic prevalence has thrust obesity to the forefront as a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and in this article we focus on recent attempts to develop models of obesity and diabetes. These models have provided new insights into the pathogenesis of insulin resistance in obesity and thus, enhance future potential for drug discovery.Section editor:Alexandre Steiner – Systemic Inflammation Laboratory, St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Centre, Phoenix, AR, USA
    Drug Discovery Today Disease Models 01/2005; 2(3):183-189.
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    ABSTRACT: Insulin stimulates glucose uptake into muscle and fat cells by translocating glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to the cell surface, with input from phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase and its downstream effector Akt/protein kinase B. Whether PI 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PI(3,4,5)P(3)) suffices to produce GLUT4 translocation is unknown. We used two strategies to deliver PI(3,4,5)P(3) intracellularly and two insulin-sensitive cell lines to examine Akt activation and GLUT4 translocation. In 3T3-L1 adipocytes, the acetoxymethyl ester of PI(3,4,5)P(3) caused GLUT4 migration to the cell periphery and increased the amount of plasma membrane-associated phospho-Akt and GLUT4. Intracellular delivery of PI(3,4,5)P(3) using polyamine carriers also induced translocation of myc-tagged GLUT4 to the surface of intact L6 myoblasts, demonstrating membrane insertion of the transporter. GLUT4 translocation caused by carrier-delivered PI(3,4,5)P(3) was not reproduced by carrier-PI 4,5-bisphosphate or carrier alone. Like insulin, carrier-mediated delivery of PI(3,4,5)P(3) elicited redistribution of perinuclear GLUT4 and Akt phosphorylation at the cell periphery. In contrast to its effect on GLUT4 mobilization, delivered PI(3,4,5)P(3) did not increase 2-deoxyglucose uptake in either L6GLUT4myc myoblasts or 3T3-L1 adipocytes. The ability of exogenously delivered PI(3,4,5)P(3) to augment plasma membrane GLUT4 content without increasing glucose uptake suggests that input at the level of PI 3-kinase suffices for GLUT4 translocation but is insufficient to stimulate glucose transport.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2004; 279(31):32233-42. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Insulin stimulates glucose uptake in skeletal muscle cells and fat cells by promoting the rapid translocation of GLUT4 glucose transporters to the plasma membrane. Recent work from our laboratory supports the concept that insulin also stimulates the intrinsic activity of GLUT4 through a signaling pathway that includes p38 MAPK. Here we show that regulation of GLUT4 activity by insulin develops during maturation of skeletal muscle cells into myotubes in concert with the ability of insulin to stimulate p38 MAPK. In L6 myotubes expressing GLUT4 that carries an exofacial myc-epitope (L6-GLUT4myc), insulin-stimulated GLUT4myc translocation equals in magnitude the glucose uptake response. Inhibition of p38 MAPK with SB203580 reduces insulin-stimulated glucose uptake without affecting GLUT4myc translocation. In contrast, in myoblasts, the magnitude of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake is significantly lower than that of GLUT4myc translocation and is insensitive to SB203580. Activation of p38 MAPK by insulin is considerably higher in myotubes than in myoblasts, as is the activation of upstream kinases MKK3/MKK6. In contrast, the activation of all three Akt isoforms and GLUT4 translocation are similar in myoblasts and myotubes. Furthermore, GLUT4myc translocation and phosphorylation of regulatory sites on Akt in L6-GLUT4myc myotubes are equally sensitive to insulin, whereas glucose uptake and phosphorylation of regulatory sites on p38 MAPK show lower sensitivity to the hormone. These observations draw additional parallels between Akt and GLUT4 translocation and between p38 MAPK and GLUT4 activation. Regulation of GLUT4 activity by insulin develops upon muscle cell differentiation and correlates with p38 MAPK activation by insulin.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2003; 278(20):17953-62. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Participation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38) in insulin-induced glucose uptake was suggested using pyridinylimidazole p38 inhibitors (e.g. SB203580). However, the role of p38 in insulin action remains controversial. We further test p38 participation in glucose uptake using a dominant-negative p38 mutant and two novel pharmacological p38 inhibitors related to but different from SB203580. We present the structures and activities of the azaazulene pharmacophores A291077 and A304000. p38 kinase activity was inhibited in vitro by A291077 and A304000 (IC(50) = 0.6 and 4.7 microm). At higher concentrations A291077 but not A304000 inhibited JNK2alpha (IC(50) = 3.5 microm). Pretreatment of 3T3-L1 adipocytes and L6 myotubes expressing GLUT4myc (L6-GLUT4myc myotubes) with A291077, A304000, SB202190, or SB203580 reduced insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by 50-60%, whereas chemical analogues inert toward p38 were ineffective. Expression of an inducible, dominant-negative p38 mutant in 3T3-L1 adipocytes reduced insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. GLUT4 translocation to the cell surface, immunodetected on plasma membrane lawns of 3T3-L1 adipocytes or on intact L6-GLUT4myc myotubes, was not altered by chemical or molecular inhibition of p38. We propose that p38 contributes to enhancing GLUT4 activity, thereby increasing glucose uptake. In addition, the azaazulene class of inhibitors described will be useful to decipher cellular actions of p38 and JNK.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2003; 277(52):50386-95. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia are cardinal features of acquired insulin resistance. In adipose cell cultures, high glucose and insulin cause insulin resistance of glucose uptake, but because of altered GLUT4 expression and contribution of GLUT1 to glucose uptake, the basis of insulin resistance could not be ascertained. Here we show that GLUT4 determines glucose uptake in L6 myotubes stably overexpressing myc-tagged GLUT4. Preincubation for 24 h with high glucose and insulin (high Glc/Ins) reduced insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation by 50%, without affecting GLUT4 expression. Insulin receptor and insulin receptor substrate-1 tyrosine phosphorylation, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activation, and Akt phosphorylation also diminished, as did insulin-mediated glucose uptake. However, basal glucose uptake rose by 40% without any gain in surface GLUT4. High Glc/Ins elevated basal p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation and activity, and a short inhibition of p38 MAPK with SB202190 corrected the rise in basal glucose uptake, suggesting that p38 MAPK activity contributes to this rise. We propose that in a cellular model of skeletal muscle, chronic exposure to high Glc/Ins reduced the acute, insulin-elicited GLUT4 translocation. In addition, basal state GLUT4 activity was augmented to partially compensate for the translocation defect, resulting in a more robust glucose uptake than what would be predicted from the amount of cell surface GLUT4 alone.
    Diabetes 08/2002; 51(7):2090-8. · 7.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The transport of glucose into cells and tissues is a highly regulated process, mediated by a family of facilitative glucose transporters (GLUTs). Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake is primarily mediated by the transporter isoform GLUT4, which is predominantly expressed in mature skeletal muscle and fat tissues. Our recent work suggests that two separate pathways are initiated in response to insulin: (i) to recruit transporters to the cell surface from intracellular pools and (ii) to increase the intrinsic activity of the transporters. These pathways are differentially inhibited by wortmannin, demonstrating that the two pathways do not operate in series. Conversely, inhibitors of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) imply that p38 MAPK is involved only in the regulation of the pathway leading to the insulin-stimulated activation of GLUT4. This review discusses the evidence for the divergence of GLUT4 translocation and activity and proposed mechanisms for the regulation of GLUT4.
    Biochemistry and Cell Biology 02/2002; 80(5):569-78. · 2.92 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
237.14 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2006–2014
    • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
      • • Department of Pathology
      • • Human Oncology & Pathogenesis Program
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2011
    • Weill Cornell Medical College
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2004
    • York University
      • Department of Biology
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1996–2003
    • SickKids
      • Program in Cell Biology
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2000–2002
    • University of Toronto
      • Hospital for Sick Children
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada