Science director named for Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute

Author: William G. Gilroy


M. Sharon Stack has been named Ann F. Dunne and Elizabeth Riley Science Director of the Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame. In her role, Stack will work collaboratively with the clinical director of the Harper Cancer Research Institute to develop and foster a collaborative and innovative cancer research program. 

Stack’s appointment is the result of an extensive national search. “We are very pleased to welcome Sharon Stack to Notre Dame,” Robert Bernhard, Notre Dame’s vice president for research and chair of the search committee, said. “She is an outstanding scholar and nationally known cancer researcher. She is the right person to help Notre Dame and Indiana University launch the Harper Institute.”
“We are delighted to have such a well-known cancer leader coming to Notre Dame,” said Gregory Crawford, William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science. “We are all very enthusiastic about Professor Stack’s vision for our future collaborative cancer efforts on campus, crossing college boundaries and institutions, and working with our local medical oncology community.”

Prior to her current position as professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences and Mulligan Professor of Cancer Research at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Stack was a professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She received her doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Louisville and completed postdoctoral training in biochemical pathology at Duke University Medical Center. She also served for several years as a research assistant professor at the Duke Medical Center.

Stack’s research focus is in the area of molecular mechanisms of metastasis. Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which tumor cells orchestrate multiple microenvironmental cues to regulate the expression and activity of metastasis-associated proteinases is the major focus of her laboratory.

Current research in her lab utilizes a multi-disciplinary framework to investigate the contribution of adhesion-based signaling, mechanical cues, altered microRNA profiles, and aberrant proteinase regulation in two model systems: epithelial ovarian carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity. Her research utilizes an integrative approach involving examination of two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) tissue culture systems and organotypic cultures complemented by murine tumor models and analyses of human tumors.

Stack has served as a full member of the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Tumor Progression and Metastasis (TPM) study section and currently performs ad hoc review service for both TPM and Tumor Microenvironment as well as intramural review for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). She also has served on review panels organized by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command for all three of their cancer programs: breast, prostate and ovarian, since 1994. Stack also is on the editorial boards of Cancer Research and Biochemical Journal and is a retired member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board.

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