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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


Jason R. Jessen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Genetic Medicine)
Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology
VICC Member

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
529 Light Hall
Nashville, TN 37232-0275

Research Specialty

Molecular and cellular mechanisms of cell migration and polarity underlying vertebrate embryonic development and tumor progression

Research Description

The zebrafish system provides many tools to examine how key proteins regulate both cell migration and polarity in a complex multicellular environment. My lab is particularly interested in the cell movements that occur during the process of gastrulation. We have identified matrix metalloproteinases and components of a noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway as essential regulators cell migration events in the early embryo. Moreover, we are investing how the human homologs of these proteins interact to control tumor cell migration and invasion.

By taking an integrative approach that combines embryology, biochemistry, molecular genetics, and genomics in zebrafish with studies in human cancer cell models, my laboratory is investigating fundamental morphogenetic processes common to vertebrate development, tumor formation, and metastasis.

Student rotation projects can focus on cell migration mechanisms using either in vitro (human cancer cell lines) or in vivo (zebrafish gastrulation) model systems.