Germ cell tumors (GCTs) are masses of tissue formed by the type of immature cells, that would develop into mature eggs (in a female) or sperm (in a male) in a healthy body. Germ cell tumors may be malignant, or they may be benign.
The Department of Surgery begins the largest epidemiologic study ever conducted on the genetic susceptibility of developing pediatric germ cell tumors.
Ultimately, understanding how GCTs develop may give important insights into the fetal origins of cancer development, leading to improved treatments and prevention of both pediatric and adult tumors.
Our work includes observing signals emanating from the micro-environment, which dramatically influence the fate of adult stem cells and cancer cells. Such cues may determine whether a tumor responds to therapy or not and whether children are born with increased susceptibility to complex disorders, including cancer.
We utilize a combination of cell culture-based and murine models of adult stem cell and tumor cell plasticity to address these important problems.