Dasari Vasanthi

Project Title: 

Gcm transcription factor: Interplay of inflammatory response and tumour formation in Drosophila

Host Organisation: 

Institut Génétique Biologie Moléculaire Cellulaire (IGBMC), Strasbourg, France

Short biography

I received my PhD in Life sciences in India in 2008. I worked primarily to comprehend the role of chromatin structural elements required for the regulation of Hox genes. My doctoral training involved understanding the chromatin features involved in regulation of Hox genes. In particular, I characterized a chromatin domain boundary element and a Polycomb response element (PREs) (Development,2010,137:4239-47, Sci Rep. 2013,3:3011). Thus, I developed my expertise in fly genetics, biochemical and molecular techniques and state of art approaches to study epigenetic mechanisms.

During my post PhD research as a postdoctoral fellow, I studied the role of developmentally important genes such as epigenetic factors in influencing the organismal longevity. While I was working for the project, I received an award from the Department of Science and Technology (Young Scientist), Govt. of India, which is a financial support given to the young investigators. During this phase I was also introduced to tumor biology and perceived the potential to find new therapeutic strategies for cancer prevention. Over these years, I appreciated the power of Drosophila as a genetic and animal model for studying human diseases. As evident from my research experience, I have gained knowledge about epigenetics and its role during development and aging and now I have chosen to focus my studies on tumor biology using Drosophila melanogaster as a model system.

I have experience in research as well as in teaching.  I was actively participating in teaching programmes for school children and oriented them towards the science that was conducted by several organisations. By this activity, I intend to raise the scientific awareness of importance of biomedical research to the school students.

After training in India, I decided to go abroad and experience a different scientific environment, which I firmly believe to be pivotal in the career of a scientist. This will not only be an exciting and challenging experience but also, and most importantly, it will help in modifying my outlook towards life and science, and will also allow me to establish proficient interactions and collaborations.  

Finally, the outcome of this project paves the way for understanding the link between immunity and cancer. The result of such studies will provide first-hand information about genes and disease mechanisms that are operating in humans.

I used Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism throughout and my research experience chromatin biology and aging.  With this fellowship I will be moving into the applied research field and this shift will give me a platform to carry forward my passion towards research in general and neurobiology in particular.

Brief description of research project

Cancer cells first start in an organ and later spread to multiple organs via blood. It is, at the metastatic stage, detrimental to the humans. The proposed project is to identify the Gcm, a gene that is important for glial cell differentiation, interacting factors that play a key role in inflammatory response leading to blood cell tumour formation. Although the role of Gcm has been studied pretty fairly in neurogenesis, its role in tumourigenesis is still poorly studied. A detailed understanding of the interacting factors of such protein could open new perspectives into the molecular pathways within and outside the nervous system. The present project intends to identify and characterise novel factors that interact with Gcm in tumor evolution. This study sets the basis to identify new pathways in tumour formation while shedding light on the connection between glial cells and the blood cells. In broader perspective, this study will contribute to understand the mechanism of cancer development, which will help to look for ways to prevent, control and cure such conditions. Furthermore, this research could lead to the development of new drugs that are more effective in treating hematopoietic malignancies and potentially other cancers as well.