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I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, and came to DePauw as a first-year student in 1999.  I majored in Biology and was fortunate to study Chemistry and French, and play in the University Symphony all four years.  After DePauw, I went to the University of Notre Dame for graduate school, where I studied the role of the vitamin D receptor in a mouse model of prostate tumor progression.  I taught at Franklin College in Franklin, IN, for 11 years before returning to DePauw as a member of the Biology faculty in 2020.  My teaching interests are in Cell and Molecular Biology, and in the past few years I have taught Molecular Biology (BIO 315), Molecules, Genes and Cells (BIO 101), Bioinformatics (BIO 325) and a first-year seminar course called You and Your Genome.

Research Interests

  1. Oxidative Stress in S. cerevisiae

In collaboration with Dr. Jeff Hansen, in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, we are testing the mechanism of action for novel epoxide-derived compounds to affect cell growth.  These compounds have been identified as potential anti-tumor compounds based on screens in the Hansen lab on Brine Shrimp.  Other similar compounds have been previously shown to work via oxidative stress signaling in the cell, so we anticipate that similar mechanisms of action may exist for these compounds.

  1. Novel Compounds for Treatment of Breast and Prostate Cancer

Similar to the S. cerevisiae project, we are testing the novel epoxide-derived compounds for anti-tumor properties in a variety of breast and prostate cancer cells.  In addition to actions via oxidative stress, we hypothesize that the compounds may also function via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, which has been shown to play a role in the progression of some prostate cancers. We hope that by understanding how these new compounds work in the cell, we may be able to contribute novel chemotherapeutic agents to the growing arsenal of cancer therapies.

Biology Summer Research Students    Biology Summer Research Students

Student Presentations

Previous students in my lab have presented at the Indiana Academy of Science Annual Meeting and Experimental Biology (FASEB). The presentations below are from students (indicated by an asterisk) in my previous lab at Franklin College, but I hope to add my DePauw research students to this list soon!

Labra S*, Rodgers A*, Hendershot A*, Thompson-Van Hook N*, Harmon T*, Mills C*, and S. Mordan-McCombs. Antioxidant Protein Expression in Glutathione-Deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae is Altered by Cysteamine Treatment. Oral Presentation, Indiana Academy of Science Annual Meeting, March 2017, Indianapolis, IN.

Hendershot, A* and S. Mordan-McCombs. Investigation of Cysteamine as a Potential Antioxidant Supplement in TRX1 Yeast Mutants. Poster, ASBMB Annual Meeting, March 2015, Boston, MA.

Thompson-Van Hook N* and S. Mordan-McCombs. Investigating the Role of Antioxidants in Protecting Saccharomyces cerevisiae from Oxidative Damage. Poster, ASBMB Annual Meeting, March 2015, Boston, MA.

Steele, A.*, E. Chikwana, S. Mordan-McCombs. The Antioxidant Cysteamine Confers a Protective Effect Against Oxidative Damage in Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the Absence of Endogenous Repair Machinery. Poster, ASBMB Annual Meeting, April 2012, San Diego, CA.


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