Maria Angelica Cortez, Assistant Professor, Research

Research Focus

The innervation of the bone marrow and its intricate relationship with cancer remains a subject of intense research and interest. The bone marrow is replete with a network of peripheral nerves, including sympathetic, parasympathetic, and sensory nerve fibers. These nerves play a critical role in regulating the mobilization and regeneration of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, especially under stress conditions such as myeloablation caused by irradiation or chemotherapy. Despite the established role of nerve fibers in promoting hematopoietic regeneration, the complex interplay between bone marrow innervation and cancer progression, particularly in the context of leukemia, poses significant challenges. The interaction between leukemia cells and the bone marrow stroma — which is known to enhance leukemia cell survival, proliferation, and therapy resistance — underscores the need for a deeper understanding of these processes. Our goal is to unravel these complex interactions to pave the way for novel therapeutic strategies.

Maria Angelica Cortez earned her bachelor’s in biomedical sciences from the University of Franca in São Paulo, Brazil, before pursuing a master’s in Cancer Biology at the University of São…
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Cortez, M.A., Masrorpour, F., Ivan, C., Zhang, J., Younes, A.I., Lu, Y., Estecio, M.R., Barsoumian, H.B., Menon, H., Caetano, M.D.S., Ramapriyan, R., Schoenhals, J.E., Wang, X., Skoulidis, F., Wasley, M.D., Calin, G., Hwu, P., Welsh, J.W. (2020). Bone morphogenic protein 7 promotes resistance to immunotherapy. Nature Communications 11, 4840. (PubMed)

Cortez, M.A., Ivan, C., Valdecanas, D., Wang, X., Peltier, H.J., Ye, Y., Araujo, L., Carbone, D.P., Shilo, K., Giri, D.K., Kelnar, K., Martin, D., Komaki, R., Gomez, D.R., Krishnan, S., Calin, G.A., Bader, A.G., Welsh, J.W. (2015). PDL1 Regulation by p53 via miR-34. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 108, 303. (PubMed)

Skoulidis, F., Byers, L.A., Diao, L., Papadimitrakopoulou, V.A., Tong, P., Izzo, J., Behrens, C., Kadara, H., Parra, E.R., Canales, J.R., Zhang, J., Giri, U., Gudikote, J., Cortez, M.A., Yang, C., Fan, Y., Peyton, M., Girard, L., Coombes, K.R., Toniatti, C., Heffernan, T.P., Choi, M., Frampton, G.M., Miller, V., Weinstein, J.N., Herbst, R.S., Wong, K.K., Zhang, J., Sharma, P., Mills, G.B., Hong, W.K., Minna, J.D., Allison, J.P., Futreal, A., Wang, J., Wistuba II, Heymach,  J.V. (2015). Co-occurring genomic alterations define major subsets of KRAS-mutant lung adenocarcinoma with distinct biology, immune profiles, and therapeutic vulnerabilities. Cancer Discovery 5, 860-77. (PubMed)

Chen, L., Gibbons, D.L., Goswami, S., Cortez, M.A., Ahn, Y.H., Byers, L.A., Zhang, X., Yi, X., Dwyer, D., Lin, W., Diao, L., Wang, J., Roybal, J., Patel, M., Ungewiss, C., Peng, D., Antonia, S., Mediavilla-Varela, M., Robertson, G., Suraokar, M., Welsh, J.W., Erez, B., Wistuba II, Chen, L., Peng, D., Wang, S., Ullrich, S.E., Heymach, J.V., Kurie, J.M., Qin, F.X. (2014). Metastasis is regulated via microRNA-200/ZEB1 axis control of turmour cell PD-L1 expression and intratumoral immunosuppression. Nature Communications 5, 5241. (PubMed)

Cortez, M.A., Bueso-Ramos, C., Ferdin, J., Lopez-Berestein, G., Sood, A.K., Calin, G.A. (2011). MicroRNAs in body fluids—the mix of hormones and biomarkers. Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology 8, 467-77. (PubMed)

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