Personal Statement

Maria Lauda Tomasi, PhD, has been working in the field of altered signaling pathways in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) for nearly 15 years. She earned her master's degree from University of Southern California (USC) in molecular biology and her doctorate at University of Turin in Italy with highest honors in molecular pathology and oncology. She earned several competitive fellowships from the University of Sassari, Italy, and USC. Tomasi also has an academic appointment as an assistant professor in medicine.

As a graduate student and then postdoctoral fellow, Tomasi described several abnormal pathways in HCC, including some responsible for increased genomic instability such as BER DNA repair, decreased expression of dual-specificity phosphatase 1 (DUSP1), which allows uncontrolled activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases to occur, as well as increased ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme 9 (Ubc9) expressions. These abnormalities can all contribute to the development of HCC.

Tomasi has also found changes in a novel post-translational modification known as sumoylation, where Ubc9 (the sole E2 enzyme) plays a key role in hepatocytes, hepatic stellate cells and macrophages in oxidative stress response after ethanol and/or lipopolysaccharide treatments. Interestingly, these changes likely contribute to the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease. She would like to dedicate her professional career to elucidate the responsible mechanisms of deregulated sumoylation and understand how the altered sumoylation affects the development of alcoholic liver disease and cancer development/progression.