Primary Research Focus
The research in this laboratory is to study the basic mechanisms that define cellular identity, and how identity may be altered during disease progression. In particular, we are currently investigating the mechanisms that “stem cell” genes play in the formation of multiple pediatric and adult tumors. We explore these foundational questions by the use of mouse genetics, tissue and 3D organoid culture, and molecular biology techniques combined with next generation genomic and bioinformatic analysis with a long-term goal of generating novel therapeutics to treat some of the most devastating diseases that afflict people worldwide.
About the Kareta Lab
Lab Projects and News
Oncogenic mechanism of Sox2 in Rb-deficient tumors
Loss of Rb is a cause of multiple pediatric tumors and loss of Rb function is common in nearly every human cancer, yet the role of Rb-loss in the formation in cancer is not fully understood. Sox2 has been implicated as a downstream effector following Rb loss. Determining the role of Sox2 in Rb-loss initiated tumors will then provide a basis for future investigations into novel cancer therapies.
The mechanism of SOX2 in the development of neuroendocrine lineages and its regulation of cell pliancy
Understanding the potential contributions of development on the ability of some cells to initiate cancer can have broad impacts on future therapies. Indeed, we will investigate master regulator genes that throughout development can define cellular identity, yet also promote cancer when aberrantly activated. Our objective is to use these investigations to better derive new targeted therapies and open new avenues for cancer prevention.
Meet the Kareta Lab Team
After graduating from Augustana University in 2020 with a biology and philosophy degree, Kirtana is currently working at Sanford Research as an associate research specialist in the Kareta lab. Her projects focus on understanding the the function of Sox2 and related proteins, and their interactions. The broader goal of her projects is to understand which cells initiate small cell lung cancer.
Kirtana's research experience comes from Dr. Seasson Vitiello's lab at Augustana University where she studied the rare genetic disorder Friedreich ataxia. Her project focused on mapping methylated cytosines in Friedreich's ataxia cell lines. She was also part of Sanford's SPUR program for two summers where she gained her interest in research and academia.
Jillian Stamp graduated from Augustana University in 2021 with degrees in Government/International Affairs and Biology. During her time at Augustana, Jillian participated in the SPUR program at Sanford Research in the Vermeer lab studying tumor innervation.
After graduating, she interned in Dr. Kareta’s lab over the summer before beginning the USD Sanford School of Medicine MD/PhD program. She is currently in the PhD portion of her training studying the function of Cancer Testis Antigens in Small Cell Lung Cancer in the Kareta Lab.