Mark LaBarge studied genetics at the University of California, Davis, and then earned his PhD in molecular pharmacology at Stanford University in 2004.M He is currently professor at the Department of Population Sciences, and deputy director of the Center for Cancer and Aging at the City of Hope National Cancer Center, California.
Professor LaBarge’s principle interests are to understand the role of microenvironment in mammary stem cell fate decisions in the context of aging and breast cancer. The objective of his research is to generate a comprehensive understanding of the effects of aging on the human mammary gland and how the resulting processes may contribute to tumorigenesis. His team is actively engaged in developing strategies to delay the biological effects of aging in the breast as a means of cancer prevention.
Professor LaBarge has a collaboration with James Lorens which has taken shape in three main areas. First, the teams have been using high-dimensional single cell CyTOF-based analyses to quantify stereotypical phenotypic changes in human mammary epithelia with age. They find that the most significant changes that arise with age are in a core of signaling and cytoskeleton proteins in luminal cells. The same changes also are evident in young epithelial cells undergoing the earliest stages of malignant progression. Second, they reported in Integrative Biology (Ertsas et.al.) a novel method for studying microenvironment-driven signaling in single cells, which they are now using to understand how the perception of microenvironment changes with age and transformation. Finally, in work that includes also the labs of Nils Halberg, Lars A. Akslen, Rolf Brekken and Oddbjørn Straume, they are exploring the role of Axl signaling in regulating phenotypic transitions in mammary epithelia, and whether it is coopted during breast tumorigenesis.