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Andrew E. Aplin, PhD

Contact Dr. Aplin

233 South 10th Street
BLSB 522
Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 503-7296
(215) 923-9248 fax

Education

PhD, Biochemistry, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London

BSc  (Hons), Biochemistry, University of Bath, Department of Biochemistry

Expertise & Research Interests

Research in the Aplin laboratory focuses on melanoma, a type of cancer which arises from the transformation of melanocytes.  The incidence rate of melanoma is rising and despite recent therapeutic advances, understanding how melanomas adapt and develop resistance to therapeutics remains a critical priority.  Since 2002, we have identified downstream targets of mutant BRAF signaling and investigated their contribution to malignant traits in melanoma.  We have shown that BRAF-MEK-ERK1/2 signaling differentially regulates two transcription factors, FOXD3 and TWIST1, and demonstrated the opposing roles of these transcription factors in melanoma invasion, growth and drug tolerance. Second, we have analyzed the determinants of therapeutic response and mechanisms of resistance to BRAF/MEK inhibitors and CDK4/6 inhibitors in subsets of melanomas.  To facilitate these efforts, we have developed novel models to quantitatively measure ERK1/2 signaling in melanoma tumors in vivo.  These studies are translating through to new clinical trials targeting ErbB3 adaptive responses in order to optimize MEK inhibitor treatments in melanoma and next-generation BRAF inhibitors in mutant BRAF solid malignancies. Through collaborations, we are extending our studies into ocular/uveal melanoma and translating our studies on the metastatic tumor microenvironment and regulators of dormancy and aggressive disease into new clinical trials.

Dr. Aplin serves roles at both the institutional and national level.  At Thomas Jefferson University, he is the Associate Director for Basic Science and the Program Leader for Cancer Cell Biology and Signaling (CCBS) in the NCI-designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.  He was Chair for the American Cancer Society Cell Structure and Metastasis (CSM) committee, a regular member of the Tumor Microenvironment (TME) NIH study section and Discussion Leader on NCI SPORE review panels.  Currently, he is a member of the grant review panel for the Melanoma Research Alliance and serves on the Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) for the Melanoma Research Foundation. He is also an Associate Editor of Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research and serves on the editorial boards of Cancer Research and Molecular Cancer Research.

The Aplin lab is a multi-disciplinary group encompassing cell biologists, molecular biologists, immunologists, and a bio-informatics specialist. We collaborate with other research groups both nationally and internationally.  The lab is currently funded by grants from the NIH/NCI, the Melanoma Research Alliance, the Melanoma Research Foundation, the Adelson Medical Research Foundation and the Falk Medical Research Trust.  In addition, many of our post-doctoral fellows and graduate students have been successful in obtaining independent funding from agencies such as NIH/NCI, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Cancer Society (ACS), and OutRun the Sun.

Keywords

Melanoma; B-RAF; N-RAS; Tumor microenvironment; Resistance to RAF inhibitors; Rho family GTPases.