Featured Scientist

Dr. Amy Brock

Amy Brock is Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the faculty in Austin, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital. She received a PhD in Biological and Biomedical Sciences from Harvard University and a BS in Biology from MIT.

Through quantitative systems biology measurements, research in the laboratory seeks to define the role of tumor heterogeneity and subpopulation dynamics in cancer progression and response to therapy, with the goal of designing improved cancer treatment strategies.

Tumor cell populations are characterized by enormous heterogeneity and plasticity in phenotype, even among cells that are isogenic. It is widely recognized that this variation contributes to malignancy, although the mechanisms are not yet well understood. Cell subpopulations consisting of diverse members in distinct functional states can engage in a network of heterotypic cell-cell communication mediated by signaling molecules. However, the quantitative dimension of cell-cell communication, which turns a tumor from a collection of independent cells to an ecosystem of interacting cell subtypes, has not been systematically examined. Understanding the role of intratumor cell diversity and heterotypic interactions is a major focus of the Brock lab, as it is critical to all prognostic and therapeutic approaches. To enable progress in these focus areas, the lab develops novel technologies and experimental systems rooted in the tools of systems and synthetic biology and bioengineering.