University of Vermont Cancer Center Member Profile

    Jason Stumpff, PhD

    Program Co-Leader, Cancer Host and Environment, UVM Cancer Center
    Associate Professor, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

    Full Member
    Cancer Host and Environment (CHE)
    Academic Interests
    Cell division, in its simplest terms, is the process by which one cell becomes two. This cellular proliferation is necessary for the survival and development of all organisms, and a key objective during the division process is to equally segregate one complete set of replicated chromosomes, which contain the cell’s genetic material. This step is dependent on a molecular machine called the mitotic spindle. Mitotic spindle function must be tightly regulated to prevent chromosome segregation errors and the production of aneuploid cells, i.e. cells with the wrong number of chromosomes. Aneuploidy is a hallmark of tumor cells and is implicated in the initiation and development of cancer. Thus, elucidating the mechanisms underlying the organization and movement of chromosomes within the mitotic spindle is an important step towards a molecular understanding of cancer development.

    A common feature of aggressive tumor cells is that they are chromosomally unstable, meaning that the cells frequently gain and lose the genetic material packaged into their chromosomes through cell division errors. Chromosomal instability (CIN) is a significant contributor to the fast growth, metastasis, and drug resistance of cancer cells. However, because chromosomal instability makes these tumor cells different from normal cells, the property itself represents a potential Achilles’ heel that could be exploited for therapy. By understanding the molecular level differences between CIN tumor cells and normal cells during cell division, the Stumpff Lab aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of CIN tumors.