Interview with Translational Oncogenomics author Dr David Frank

Posted Wed, Aug, 05,2009

Dr David Frank is the author of "A STAT3 gene expression signature in gliomas is associated with a poor prognosiss" which was published in Translational Oncogenomics.

In this interview Dr Frank discusses his research, recently published articles and his views on open access publishing.

What is the primary focus of your research?

Our laboratory is focused on the role of transcription factors, particularly STAT family members, in mediating malignant cellular transformation. This has informed our understanding of the patterns of gene expression needed to transform a normal cell into a cancer cell, and it has also provided insight into novel targeted strategies for cancer therapy.

What are the most exciting developments arising from current research in your area?

Recent developments in this field have broadened our understanding of processes from basic aspects of gene regulation to new clinical trials for cancer therapy. For example, we have found that two highly related transcription factors, STAT3 and STAT5, can mediate opposite effects on the expression of key target genes. Furthermore, the pattern of STAT activation in a disease such as breast cancer is closely associated with the biological and clinical characteristics of those tumors in patients. Finally, we have now identified a number of small molecules that can specifically regulate the activity of STATs, and which may have important therapeutic applications. In fact, we are in the process of initiating clinical trials of STAT inhibitors in patients with cancer. A key aspect of these trials will be isolating tumor cells from patients on therapy to determine if we are, in fact, inhibiting a specific STAT, and analyzing resultant effects on gene expression and cellular phenotype. Thus, this work clearly reflects both bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench translational science.

How did you come to be working in your research area?

On a personal level, I have always been interested in studying scientific questions that are not only intellectually interesting, but which also can have clear implications to human disease. As an oncologist, I see on a daily basis the toll taken on patients and their families by cancer. In addition, the treatments for a range of common cancers is little different from what it was 20 years ago, and only marginally more effective. Thus, focusing on the molecular pathogenesis of cancer, and using that knowledge to develop rational targeted strategies, has been particularly satisfying for me.

What do you think about the development of open access publishing? What motivated you to publish in an OA journal?

One of the irreversible changes brought about by the advent of the internet is the expectation from lay people that they can get access to accurate up-to-date information on highly specialized topics of importance to them. As scientists, particularly when funded by governments, we have an obligation to facilitate the transfer of the knowledge we generate as quickly and as easily as possible to the widest possible audience.

Please describe your experience publishing with Libertas Academica:

My interaction with Libertas Academica was very professional and efficient.

What articles and/or books have you published recently?

  1. Lynch RA, Etchin J, Battle TE, Frank DA. A small molecule enhancer of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 transcriptional activity accentuates the anti-proliferative effects of interferon-γ in human cancer cells. Cancer Research. 2007; 67:1254-61.

  2. Nelson EA, Walker, SR, Kepich A, Gashin LB, Hideshima T, Ikeda H, Chauhan D, Anderson KC, Frank DA. Nifuroxazide inhibits survival of multiple myeloma cells by directly inhibiting STAT3. Blood. 2008; 112:5095-5102.

  3. Walker SR, Nelson EA, Zou L, Signoretti S, Richardson A, Frank DA. Reciprocal effects of STAT5 and STAT3 in breast cancer. Mol. Cancer Res. 2009; 7:966-976.

More information about Dr Frank:

My thanks to Dr Frank.

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