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NCI Director Ned Sharpless will deliver a lecture on the relationship between tumor suppression and aging. Dr. Sharpless conducts research in understanding the biology of the aging process that promotes the conversion of normal self-renewing cells into dysfunctional cancer cells. He has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the relationship between aging and cancer, and in the preclinical development of novel therapeutics for melanoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer.
Specifically, Dr. Sharpless has described novel regulators of metastasis, including p16INK4a, a tumor-suppressor and aging biomarker that limits cell-cycle progression and promotes cellular senescence. This biomarker binds and inhibits cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) activity, thereby promoting a retinoblastoma- (RB) dependent cell-cycle arrest. Pharmacological approaches to protecting hematopoietic stem cells in vivo from chemotherapy-induced exhaustion have been developed through transient CDK4/6 inhibition. Dr. Sharpless is also studying circular RNA (ecircRNA), a novel form of non-coding RNA. Bioinformatic approaches identified that ecircRNAs are abundant, stable, conserved, and non-random products of RNA splicing that could be involved in the control of gene expression.
Sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, the Mahoney Lecture recognizes Mrs. Florence Stephenson Mahoney's lifetime commitment to medical research and its benefits to people worldwide. Mrs. Mahoney, who died in 2002 at the age of 103, is widely known for her dedicated efforts in shaping national health-science policy, particularly with respect to aging.