Dr. Thomas’s laboratory has focused on the following research:
- Investigating the mechanisms by which estrogen receptors (ERs) influence cancer initiation, progression and response to therapy. The lab has focused on interactions of ERs with p53, stress response and growth factor receptor signaling in breast, ovarian and lung cancer.
- Delineating pathways that regulate ER expression in cells. Chromatin modifiers impacting transcription together with signaling kinases and ubiquitin proteasome pathway that control translation and protein stability are investigated as potential drivers of altered ER expression in malignant breast aiming to identify novel factors with prognostic and therapeutic value.
- Exploring estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) as novel biomarker and therapeutic target in inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) and other forms of aggressive breast cancer. Associating ERβ with clinical phenotypes and evaluating ERβ agonists as anti-metastatic regimen in preclinical IBC models has been the focus of our studies.
- Studying the involvement of abnormal estrogen signaling in breast tumorigenesis in the context of defective p53 pathway using mouse models that mimic the pathology of Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) and breast cancer tissues from affected individuals.
- Determining how ER signaling influences breast cancer progression by altering the tumor microenvironment using novel mouse models of breast cancer with altered ER signaling.
- Defining the crosstalk between estrogen signaling and lipid metabolism during development of the mammary gland and how this interaction works in malignant tissues to support metabolic and cellular adaptations that contribute to progression and metastasis.