Justin Lathia, PhD, formerly a Research Associate in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, has been appointed to his new lab in Cell Biology.
Dr. Lathia's early interests were in engineering, for which he went to Drexel University with his eyes on a pharmaceutical career. He obtained a combined BS/MS in biomedical engineering where he studied adhesion mechanisms (how cells communicate by binding to other cells or cellular structures) in breast cancer. Participating in a unique inter-institutional program between Cambridge University and the National Institute of Aging, Dr. Lathia earned his PhD investigating adhesion mechanisms and neural stem cells. His studies were rewarding – he characterized a major class of cell adhesion receptors in neural stem cells (from the embryo and adult) and their role in brain development and maintenance. However, his engineering mind sought ways to more directly apply this knowledge.
At a meeting in 2007, he met Jeremy Rich, MD, Chair, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (formerly at Duke University), and expressed an interest in studying brain cancer. He joined Dr. Rich's lab at Duke University the following spring, and later joined Dr. Rich in their transition to Cleveland Clinic. Together they have published on brain cancer stem cells in many high-impact journals, including Cell Stem Cell, Cell, Cancer Cell, and most recently Journal of Experimental Medicine. In the context of brain cancer, cell-to-cell communication through adhesion molecules remains the focus of his studies, particularly when combined with novel imaging strategies, which is likely to provide novel insight into this communication and have direct implications on brain tumor biology.