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Alyssa Werner

Alyssa WernerI grew up just outside Denver, Colorado and received my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Denver in June of 2017. I moved on to pursue my PhD in biochemistry at the University of Arizona in August of 2017. I am currently a fourth year PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Pascale Charest. I decided to attend UArizona for its wide variety of research labs and the incredible support of the core facilities and the Biological Chemistry umbrella program.

I am very grateful to be a recipient of the David F. O’Brien Fellowship in Chemistry this year. Receiving this fellowship means that I will have the opportunity to go to and present my work at a conference of my choosing, which will provide me the opportunity to meet other investigators and establish connections in my field. I hope to become a Principal Investigator, leading my own research team to continue to understand the mechanisms of cancer development and metastasis. This fellowship will help me to find career development opportunities to pursue after completing my training at the University of Arizona. I hope that research done in my career will contribute to the understanding of cancer biology and eventually, impact the development of targeted therapeutics.

Currently, I study a protein complex called the mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTORC2). This protein complex is key to signaling that causes cells to migrate, which is an important step in cancer metastasis. I study this protein complex in lung cancer models, as lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related death in both the US and the world. My work seeks to uncover new signaling pathways that activate mTORC2 and control cell migration in lung cancer, as a means for understanding how cells are able to move and establish secondary tumors in lung cancer metastasis.