Join Us

Become a Team Member

The Whitehurst lab is seeking energetic, dedicated graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to join our work.

Current Projects

Cancer-Testis Antigens (aka Cancer Germline Genes) 

Cancer-testis antigens are normally only expressed in testis, but we have discovered a cohort of cancer-testis antigens expressed in tumor cells and localized to the mitochondria. Inhibition of these proteins leads to a loss of tumor cell viability.

This project will focus on understanding how these proteins promote tumor cell survival by altering mitochondrial behavior including fission-fusion dynamics, oxidative phosphorylation, mitophagy and/or apoptosis. These studies will involve microscopy, live-cell imaging, Seahorse analysis, etc. This study will reveal novel mechanisms by which tumor cells modulate mitochondrial function. Ultimately, these proteins could represent therapeutic targets for anti-cancer therapy.

Cancer-Testis Antigens and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer cells frequently activate the expression of testis proteins. We are studying how these proteins induce tumorigenic phenotypes.

In this project, we will determine how a specific cancer testis protein alters the transcriptional landscape to alter the tumor microenvironment and allow to tumors to escape immune recognition. We will determine how expression of specific cytokines becomes altered and how these changes attract immune suppressor cells to tumors.

This project will involve cell-based techniques and whole animal work. Ultimately, we hope to identify chemokine antagonists that may block breast cancer growth.