Dr. Sarah Diermeier is a new Lecturer in the Biochemistry Department since January 2018.
Sarah completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at the University of Regensburg in Germany. During her Master's Thesis at the University of Kuopio in Finland, she investigated the impact of nutrition on gene regulation in breast cancer and became interested in understanding the genome-wide mechanisms controlling gene expression. Therefore, she performed her Ph.D. thesis work in epigenetics and genomics in the laboratory of Dr. Gernot Längst in Germany. In 2013, Sarah joined the laboratory of Dr. David Spector at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, elucidating long non-coding RNAs as new therapeutic targets in breast cancer. From 2017 on, Sarah worked as a Senior Fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, elucidating cancer progression on a single cell level. She recently moved to New Zealand to start her own research group in the Biochemistry Department.
Long non-coding RNAs as drivers of tumor progression and metastasis
Recent genome-wide studies revealed that only 2% of the human genome encodes for proteins while as much as 80% of the genome can be transcribed. Of these non-coding transcripts, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) represent the largest and most diverse class. We identified 30 potentially oncogenic lncRNAs in breast cancer, termed Mammary Tumor Associated RNAs (MaTARs). Loss-of-function models revealed that MaTARs are drivers of tumor cell proliferation, migration and/or invasion. Ongoing studies are investigating the molecular mechanism by which MaTARs function. Our results suggest that lncRNAs are likely important drivers of tumor progression and represent promising new therapeutic targets.