Research Team


 Kerry L. Burnstein, a South Florida native, received her B.A. in biology (1981) from Wesleyan University, Middletown Connecticut and a Ph.D. in genetics (1986) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She pursued post-doctoral training at UNC-CH studying the regulation of steroid hormone receptors. In 1991, Dr. Burnstein joined the faculty at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology. She received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1997 and became a full Professor in 2003. She was recently appointed Associate Director of Education and Training for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at UM. For the last 24 years, Dr. Burnstein has maintained an active and well-funded research program focusing on androgen receptor signaling as well as the identification and testing of novel experimental therapeutics for PC. Her work seeks to exploit unique cross talk between steroid hormone receptors and other pathways for therapeutics and to understand how these pathways contribute to drug resistance. Her lab recently published (in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Schally) work showing that a new growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) antagonist is effective in CRPC. Dr. Burnstein’s group demonstrated that Vav3, a Rho GTPase guanine nucleotide exchange factor, is upregulated during PC progression following androgen withdrawal therapy and reinforces robust AR and AR variant activity in CRPC. Strikingly, Vav3 is sufficient to confer castration-resistant tumor growth in vivo. These studies support the therapeutic targeting of Vav3 signaling pathways that cross talk with AR and AR variants and has led to the identification of new drug targets including the Rho GTPase, Rac1 in CRPC.


 Yehia Daaka is Professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL. He received his BA in Chemistry and Biology at Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL in 1986, MSc in Chemistry at the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL in 1988, and PhD (with distinction) in Medical Sciences at the University of South Florida Health Sciences Center, Tampa, FL in 1995. Dr. Daaka trained at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC with Professor Robert J Lefkowitz before establishing his own research laboratory in 1998 at Duke where he rose through the academic ranks to Associate Professor with tenure. In 2005, Dr. Daaka was recruited to the Medical College of Georgia as Professor and Vice Chair of research in the Department of Pathology. In 2009 he was appointed the David A Cofrin Chair in Urologic Oncology, and Scientific Director of the UF Prostate Disease Center and in 2013 Dr. Daaka was promoted to the Haskell Hess Professorship and Chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. Dr. Daaka’s research career has been devoted to understanding the biological roles of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that instruct development and continue to function in adulthood. He has been involved in crucial discoveries that unraveled contribution of these receptors and their heterotrimeric G protein and bArrestin effectors to human (patho)physiologic processes; for example, in the initiation and progression of cancer. Dr. Daaka’s extensive research on the function of these receptors has contributed to their recognition as targets for cancer therapy, and over the last decade several anti-cancer drugs have been developed against these molecules. Dr. Daaka provided the first evidence that GPCRs undergo the regulated coupling switch to multiple G proteins (i.e. b2AR-mediated coupling to Gi is preceded by the Gs-induced and PKA-mediated phosphorylation of the receptor) and that bArrestins actively participate in mitogenic signaling by GPCRs (i.e. forced expression of a dominant negative form of bArrestin1 attenuated the b2AR-mediated activation of ERK MAP kinases). Dr. Daaka continues to study novel mitogenic signaling by GPCR systems and has recently reported that bArrestins function as a co-regulators of androgen receptor in prostate cancer.


Conor Lynch is an Assoc. Member in the Tumor Biology Department at the Moffitt Cancer Center with a joint Assoc. Professorship in the School of Oncological Sciences at the University of South Florida (USF). He received his PhD from Dublin City University in 2001 and completed his post-doctoral training on protease research in the laboratory of Lynn Matrisian at Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN.  His main research area is on skeletal malignancy with a particular emphasis on bone metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer.  Despite medical advances, the American Cancer Society predicts that approximately 30,000 men will succumb to prostate cancer during 2012 in the United States alone. The majority of these men will die from metastatic burden.  Bone metastasis is a common event in prostate cancer progression with the resultant lesions severely impacting the patient’s quality of life. In collaboration with the clinicians in Genitourinary Oncology and Orthopaedics at the Moffitt Cancer Center and collaborators throughout the state of Florida such as Drs. Burnstein and Daaka, he is focused on identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying prostate cancer metastasis and prostate cancer induced changes in the bone microenvironment. To this end, his group incorporates a number of pre-clinical animal models that recapitulate the pathophysiology of human prostate to bone metastasis. He is also interested in testing targeted therapies in these models.  His group has extensisive experience in prostate cancer progression, bone imaging and in bone histology/histomorphometry. His team is 100% dedicated to identifying new therapies and treatment strategies that will effectively treat and cure men with advanced prostate cancer.

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