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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

 

VICC toll-free number 1-877-936-8422

Aron  Parekh

Aron Parekh, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology

Contact Information:

2220 Pierce Avenue
746A Preston Research Building
Nashville, TN 37232
615-936-3532

Profile

Tumors are more rigid than surrounding normal tissue and experience increased tissue tension.  The changes in the mechanical properties of tumors can drive cancer cell invasion.  My laboratory is interested in understanding how mechanical forces regulate cancer cell phenotype.  In particular, we are interested in how cancer cells sense these differences in mechanical properties and translate them to extracellular matrix degradation by invadopodia.  Invadapodia facilitate extracellular matrix degradation which allows cancer cells to invade and metastasize.  Therefore, our long term goal is to understand the biomechanical regulation of cancer cell invasion to identify targets to hinder cancer progression.  We use a variety of in vitro, ex vivo, and computational techniques to understand how tissue mechanics regulates the invasive phenotype of cancer cells.  These include microscopy (widefield, confocal, live cell), molecular and cellular techniques (RNAi, immunofluorescence, Westerns), synthetic and tissue-derived substrates (polyacrylamide gels, urinary bladder matrix), mechanical characterization of substrates (rheometry, atomic force microscopy), continuum mechanics (cellular traction force analyses), and development of novel assays and custom-made bioreactors to expose cancer cells to different mechanical environments.
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Tumors are more rigid than surrounding normal tissue and experience increased tissue tension.  The changes in the mechanical properties of tumors can drive cancer cell invasion.  My laboratory is interested in understanding how mechanical forces regulate cancer cell phenotype.  In particular, we are interested in how cancer cells sense these differences in mechanical properties and translate them to extracellular matrix degradation by invadopodia.  Invadapodia facilitate extracellular matrix degradation which allows cancer cells to invade and metastasize.  Therefore, our long term goal is to understand the biomechanical regulation of cancer cell invasion to identify targets to hinder cancer progression.  We use a variety of in vitro, ex vivo, and computational techniques to understand how tissue mechanics regulates the invasive phenotype of cancer cells.  These include microscopy (widefield, confocal, live cell), molecular and cellular techniques (RNAi, immunofluorescence, Westerns), synthetic and tissue-derived substrates (polyacrylamide gels, urinary bladder matrix), mechanical characterization of substrates (rheometry, atomic force microscopy), continuum mechanics (cellular traction force analyses), and development of novel assays and custom-made bioreactors to expose cancer cells to different mechanical environments.

Education
  • 1992-96, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA; B.S., Chemical Engineering
  • 1997-04, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA; Ph.D., Chemical Engineering with Option in Biomolecular Transport Dynamics
  • 2004-06, Postdoctoral Fellow, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology
  • 2006-08, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Department of Bioengineering
  • 2008-10, Research Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN; Department of Cancer Biology