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Tori Macera

DPhil student in cancer and developmental biology

From an early age, I was interested in how the human body works. As I got older, these interests deepened and evolved to wanting to understand the underlying biological processes and mechanisms that govern cells and diseases, such as in cancer.

I graduated from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland, USA with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry/Biology. After graduating from Loyola, I was a research technician in the lab of Craig Thompson at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, USA. I began my PhD studies at the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at MSKCC in the Richard White lab. I am now continuing my graduate work in the White lab at Oxford.

My research focuses on understanding how the anatomic location and differentiation state of the melanocyte (the pigment-producing cell found in the skin) impacts its ability to become melanoma. Previous work from our lab found that melanocytes found in acral locations (i.e., hands and feet) are more susceptible to the oncogene, CRKL, versus melanocytes located in other parts of the body. These acral melanocytes give rise to a rare subtype of melanoma called acral melanoma. Moreover, previous work uncovered that a less differentiated (i.e., less mature) melanocyte is more competent to become melanoma than a mature melanocyte. To explore these important factors in melanocytes and melanoma, my project leverages the versatility of a human induced pluripotent stem cell model.