PhD Candidate - Bioengineering
NIH National Research Service Award Fellow, National Science Foundation Fellow: Kayla is studying cellular invasion in glioblastoma, the most common and malignant form of primary brain cancer. More specifically, she is investigating mechanisms underlying motility mediated by CD44, a transmembrane cell-surface receptor that binds hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide composes much of brain extracellular matrix and is overexpressed in glioblastoma. Glioblastoma tumors also commonly overexpress CD44, which contributes to increased invasion and is linked to drug resistance. Despite its significant role in tumor progression and potential as a therapeutic target, mechanisms underlying CD44-based motility is poorly understood. Kayla hopes her work will provide insight into the pathways and cytoskeletal rearrangements involved in invasion mediated by CD44 that will aid in development of therapeutic strategies.