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Think and Do The Extraordinary
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Melanie Simpson

Professor and Department Head

Polk Hall 128


Research Program Overview

The Simpson lab research program is focused on molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer progression. Our studies use a variety of approaches, including biochemical characterization of enzymatic activity and inhibitor function in purified protein, gene manipulation in cultured prostate tumor cells and quantification of effects at the molecular and cellular level, and a variety of techniques to examine tumor growth and metastasis in mouse models. We have two main projects. In one, our goal is to determine the role of steroid metabolizing enzymes in the control of prostate cancer hormone dependence and the potentiation of tumor response to drug treatments. In the other project, we are investigating how components of the cellular environment regulate growth and metastatic spread. Our lab has developed a unique set of molecular and cellular tools for these studies that allow us to dissect and quantify the respective roles of extracellular matrix synthesis and turnover in cellular processes underlying invasive progression. We further examine molecular receptors and signaling pathways that mediate cell-cell communication and alter tissue architecture during progression. An interesting new development in these studies is the implication of intracellular and extracellular vesicles such as exosomes, which are made and secreted by the tumor cells to facilitate cell communication and transformation. We are characterizing these vesicles to better understand their role in cell interactions that promote cancer.


B.S., Biochemistry, University of Minnesota (1992)
Ph.D., Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, University of Minnesota (1997)