Dr. Esther Black
Dr. Esther Black

Associate Professor

Dr. Black received a Ph.D. at the University of Florida in Biomedical Sciences. Her thesis focused on transcriptional regulation in vaccinia virus. Dr. Black completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Joseph Nevins at Duke University. While at Duke, she initiated experiments to examine oncogenic signaling pathways using both biochemical and genomics tools. Dr. Black's lab focuses on understanding oncogenic signaling cascades in both human and mouse systems. Our lab uses genomics and bioinformatics tools trained to predict deregulation of signaling cascades in non-small cell lung cancers and potentially other cancers. DNA microarray technology, when combined with bioinformatics, has proven valuable in dissecting the complexity of the oncogenic process. We hope to utilize these technologies to understand basic biological questions as well as to improve patient care in targeting therapies to the molecular events deregulated in specific patient populations. The data from microarray experiments will also lead to opportunities for drug discovery and design efforts as we uncover molecular effectors of deregulated signaling cascades common to many types of cancers. We recently developed a gene expression predictor of sensitivity to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). We will soon validate the usefulness of that predictor in a pilot clinical study. Using the microarray data we have generated to isolate the MAPK, PI3K/AKT and STAT3 signaling cascades in lung epithelial cells, we are both building predictive gene expression signatures of each event and using the gene expression data as a descriptive phenotype of each cascade. Specific effector molecules common to these signaling pathways are being investigated in cell culture systems with hopes of identifying molecules that may be targeted by inhibitory compounds as novel therapeutics for non-small cell lung cancer. Finally, we will use gene expression signatures of pathway activation and other biomarkers of sensitivity to chemotherapeutic treatments to build a decision tree for individualized treatment of patients with recurrent or relapsed non-small cell lung cancer.

Interests

  • Pharmacogenetics/genomics; cancer biology
  • active learning and flipped classroom experiences

Recent Publications

  • Stamatkin Chistopher, Ratermann Kelley L, Westendorf Colleen, Black Esther Penni. (2015). Response to Class IA isoform selective inhibition of PI3K in NSCLC cells uncovers functional specificities and compensations of Class IA enzymes. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics,
  • Massarweh Suleiman Alfred, Romond Edward H., Black Esther Penni, Van Meter Emily Marie, Shelton Brent J. (2014). A phase II study of combined fulvestrant and everolimus in patients with metastatic estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer after aromatase inhibitor (AI) failure. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 143(2), 352-332.
  • Massarweh Suleiman Alfred, Romond Edward H., Black Esther Penni, Van Meter Emily Marie, Shelton Brent J., Kadamyan-Melkumian V., Stevens M., Elledge R. (2013). A phase II study of combined fulvestrant and everolimus in patients with metastatic estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer after aromatase inhibitor (AI) failure. Breast Cancer Res Treat [epub ahead of print],
  • Massarweh Suleiman Alfred, Croley J., Black Esther Penni, Romond Edward H., Chambers Mara Deon, Waynick S., Slone S., Waynick C., Stevens M., Weiss Heidi L. (2012). A Phase II study of combined fulvestrant and RAD001 (everolimus) in metastatic estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer afer aromatase inhibitor (AI) failure. Cancer Res, 72(24 suppl), 281s.
  • Romanelli Frank, Gokun Yevgeniya, Garces Helen, Policastri Anne, Black Esther Penni. (2012). A pilot common reading experience (CRE) to integrate basic and clinical sciences education. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Eduction, 76(3), Article 25. http://www.ajpe.org/doi/abs/10.5688/ajpe76225?prevSearch=%5BContrib%3A+Policastri%5D&searchHistoryKey=
  • Sun Shi-Yong, Khuri Fadlo R, Owonikolo Taofeek K, Black Esther Penni, Balko Justin, Zhou Wei, Yue Ping, Oh You-Take. (2012). Positive regulation of death receptor 5 by oncogenic Ras and B-Raf and underlying mechanisms. Journal of Biological Chemistry , 2012(1), 257-267. www.jbc.org/content/287/1/257.abstract
  • Black Esther Penni, Frolov Audrey A., Timmons R, Willian M, Balko J M, Britson J, Bryant J L. (2011). A microRNA gene expression signature predicts response to erlotinib in epithelial cancer cell lines and targets EMT. British Journal of Cancer, 106(1), 148-156. www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v106/n1/abs/bjc2011465a.html
  • Black Esther Penni, Balko Justin M. (2011). Invited commentary: Do the genes tell us the path of most resistance?. Cancer Biology and Therapy; Landes Bioscience, 11(2), 213-215. www.landesbioscience.com/journals/5/article/13922/
  • Balko Justin M, Black Esther Penni, Balko A. (2010). Invited commentary. First-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer: focus on cetuximab in combination with chemotherapy. Clinical Medicine Reviews in Oncology,
  • Rohr Jurgen, Black Esther Penni, Cain Jeffrey Joh. (2009). An Audience Response System Strategy to Improve Student Motivation, Attention, and Feedback . American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 73(2), Article 21. http://www.ajpe.org/doi/abs/10.5688/aj730221