Skip to Content

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

 
Jennifer A.  Pietenpol

Jennifer A. Pietenpol, Ph.D.

Benjamin F. Byrd, Jr. Professor of Oncology
Professor of Biochemistry, Otolaryngology, Cancer Biology
Director, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
VICC Member
Administrator and Researcher

Contact Information:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
652 Preston Research Building
Nashville, TN 37232-0146
615-936-1512

Profile

Jennifer A. Pietenpol, Ph.D., is the Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Molecular Oncology, and Professor of Biochemistry, Cancer Biology and Otolaryngology.   Pietenpol’s research focuses on breast cancer and the p53 family signaling network—the most frequently targeted network for mutation in human tumors.   Recently, Pietenpol has integrated her research expertise in tumor suppressor genes and molecular genetics with bioinformatic analysis of high dimensional genomic data sets to molecularly subtype difficult-to-treat, triple negative breast cancer.  Her results are being translated to clinical trials and alignment of patients to appropriate, molecularly targeted therapy.  Her research has impacted many areas of science and medicine and she has translated her discoveries into clinical impact for breast cancer patients.
Read more ....

Jennifer A. Pietenpol, Ph.D., is the Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Molecular Oncology, and Professor of Biochemistry, Cancer Biology and Otolaryngology.   Pietenpol’s research focuses on breast cancer and the p53 family signaling network—the most frequently targeted network for mutation in human tumors.   Recently, Pietenpol has integrated her research expertise in tumor suppressor genes and molecular genetics with bioinformatic analysis of high dimensional genomic data sets to molecularly subtype difficult-to-treat, triple negative breast cancer.  Her results are being translated to clinical trials and alignment of patients to appropriate, molecularly targeted therapy.  Her research has impacted many areas of science and medicine and she has translated her discoveries into clinical impact for breast cancer patients. Pietenpol’s research is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Program.
 
In 2008, the President appointed Pietenpol to a six-year term on the National Cancer Advisory Board. Also, Dr. Pietenpol serves on the external advisory boards for eight NCI Comprehensive Cancer Centers and leads two as Chair.  In 2011, Pietenpol was appointed as member of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee and as a member of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research Advisory Committee.  Recently, Dr. Pietenpol completed a three-year, elected term on the AACR Board of Directors. This year she will begin a three-year term as a Member of the Institute of Medicine, National Cancer Policy Forum.
 
In 1997, Pietenpol received the Burroughs Wellcome New Investigator Award in Toxicology; in 2004, she was honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award at Vanderbilt for her mentoring of graduate and medical students.  She was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (2009) and received the Carleton College Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2011.  In 2012, she was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for outstanding contributions to the field of cancer research, particularly the involvement of signaling networks in breast and other cancers.
 
After graduating from Carleton with honors in biology and as a member of Sigma Xi, Pietenpol earned a Ph.D. in cell biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1990.  She continued her postgraduate training at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center (now Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center) before returning to Vanderbilt in 1995 as an assistant professor of biochemistry.  She achieved the rank of full professor in 2002. Pietenpol has served as associate editor or on the editorial board for numerous biomedical research journals. She has authored or co-authored over 120 articles published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Education
  • B.A. - Carleton College, 1986
  • Ph.D. - Vanderbilt University, 1990
  • Fellowship - Johns Hopkins University, 1994
Research Specialty

p53 family signaling axis (p53, p63, and p73); Breast Cancer; Mechanisms of tumor suppression and epithelial cell differentiation

Research Description

Some defining properties of tumor cells are increased cell proliferation, decreased cell death and genomic instability. These characteristics are acquired as a consequence of mutations in genes that control the fidelity and frequency of cell division as well as the ability of the cell to initiate pathways of apoptosis. A goal of the ongoing cancer-based research in the Pietenpol Laboratory is to provide new therapeutic approaches that specifically target the molecular interactions and biochemical pathways that are changed in tumor cells. The Laboratory was one of the first to pioneer chromatin immunoprecipatation techniques allowing analysis of p53 and identification of target genes involved in tumor suppression. They discovered that p63 signaling confers key epithelial properties to cells by regulating novel target genes and transcriptional programs controling mesenchymal phenotypes. Subsequently, the Pietenpol group began mechanistic studies on p73, deciphered the functional p73 binding sites in the genome, discovered numerous p73-target mRNAs and microRNAs, and was the first to link the mTOR signaling pathway to regulation of p73 activity. Importantly, the research defined a mTOR-p73 signaling pathway involved in mesenchymal differentiation and a resulting p73 gene signature that classifies rhabdomyosarcomas by subtype and patient outcome. Most recently, Pietenpol and her team have integrated research expertise in tumor suppressor genes and molecular genetics with bioinformatic analysis of high dimensional genomic data sets to molecularly subtype difficult-to-treat, triple negative breast cancer. The results are being translated to clinical trials and alignment of patients to appropriate, molecularly targeted therapy. The overall goals of her research are to use bench-based discoveries to advance patient care.

Publications