The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Iuliana Lazar, an associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, for her work to help people at risk for breast cancer.
Cancer is a disease of the cell cycle that results in uncontrolled proliferation of cells. In Lazar’s laboratory, researchers explore the molecular mechanisms of breast cancer cell cycle regulation by using holistic, mass spectrometry-based systems biology approaches.
Using proteomics — a field that explores the interactions of the proteins produced by genes — Lazar helps develop technologies to investigate pathways that enable cancer cells to bypass tightly regulated molecular checkpoints, proliferate in an unrestrained manner, metastasize, and hijack normal biological function.
Her work in the development of microfluidic devices with mass spectrometric detection for proteomic applications earned her a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award in 2005, a National Institutes of Health Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies Award in 2008, and, recently, a National Science Foundation Instrument Development for Biology Research Award in 2013.
Holistic, systems biology approaches based on mass spectrometry and proteomic technologies that have been developed in Lazar's laboratory have led so far to the identification of more than 4,000 breast cancer proteins, with representative protein clusters being mapped to all hallmarks of cancer.
The proteomic data is also a gateway to identify novel therapeutic drug-targets, and to develop microfluidic architectures for targeted detection of biomarkers indicative of disease.
Lazar is also an associate professor with the Department of Surgery of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and is affiliated with the Fralin Life Science Institute and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. She received her doctoral degree in chemistry from Brigham Young University and did postdoctoral research at Sensar Larson-Davis Inc. and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.