Feb 18, 2021: Investigating the Role of Environmental Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure on Breast Tumor Progression

Larisa Gearhart-Serna, PhD candidate, in her laboratory

Larisa (Risa) Gearhart-Serna, BA, BS

PhD Candidate in Pathology; Integrated Toxicology & Environmental Health Program

Duke University School of Medicine

She / Her / Hers

Cell Death Laboratory

What we know about the interaction between cancer and the environment is largely in the area of carcinogenesis/initiation, but it is perhaps just as crucial to consider a patient’s environment after diagnosis and during the course of their disease and treatment. Emerging evidence suggests the role of environmental chemicals, in particular endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), in progression of breast cancer and treatment resistance, which can impact survival outcomes. In a multi-scale approach, Risa uses tools from epidemiology, exposure analysis, and cell culture to study interactions between breast tumor progression and the environment toward an integrated analysis.

About the Speaker: Risa is a native New Mexican, and has a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Mills College in Oakland, CA.  Her dissertation research is a fusion of environmental toxicology and molecular cancer biology.  As a trainee in the Duke University School of Medicine Department of Pathology, she is particularly interested in how exposures to environmental toxicants such as endocrine disrupting chemicals can exacerbate progression and treatment resistance in breast tumors. She also enjoys working on technology transfer and health disparities research, teaching flamenco dance, baking, and spreading joy.

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