Heidi Greulich studies mutations in genes that lead to cancer. Using information gleaned from cancer genome sequences, she identifies new cancer-causing genes and evaluates how they function in order to find possible therapeutic targets. For example, in endometrial cancer, which starts in the lining of a woman’s uterus, she and her colleagues have found recurring mutations of a gene called fibroblast growth factor receptor 2, or FGFR2.
Laboratory experiments on endometrial cancer cells have shown that these cancer-causing gene variants and their mutant protein function are required for the cancer cells harboring FGFR2 mutations to survive. Endometrial cancer patients are now being included in clinical trials of drugs that block FGFR2 activity.
Greulich, who joined the Broad in 2004, earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology at Princeton University and a doctorate in molecular oncology at The Rockefeller University. She has won a grant from Uniting Against Lung Cancer for the functional evaluation of somatic mutations found in lung cancer patients. Her current efforts are focused on novel extracellular domain mutations of the receptor tyrosine kinase gene ERBB2, as well as development of systematic methods for functional validation of somatic alterations found in human cancer.
Greulich H et al. Oncogenic transformation by inhibitor-sensitive and -resistant EGFR mutants. PLoS Medicine 2005 Nov;2(11):e313.
Dutt A et al. Drug-sensitive FGFR2 mutations in endometrial carcinoma. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 2008 Jun 24;105(25):8713-7.
Greulich H, Pollock PM. Targeting mutant fibroblast growth factor receptors in cancer. Trends in Molecular Medicine 2011 May 1;17(5):283-92.