Kristiina Vuori, M.D., Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor(s)
Kristiina Vuori's Research Focus
Dr. Vuori's research is aimed at unraveling the cell mechanisms of the most life-threatening aspect of cancer, which is cancer metastasis. Metastasis is responsible for nearly all deaths in cancer patients, and understanding of the mechanisms that turn a cancer from a locally growing tumor into highly metastatic cancer cells will provide clues how to prevent this step in cancer progression. All cells in our body body stick to one another and to the packaging material, or extracellular matrix, around them. This adhesion is essential for cell survival; if cells become detached from their microenvironment, they will die through a process known as apoptosis. This phenomenon, which is called adhesion dependency of survival, is one of the safeguards that maintain the integrity and normal function of tissues, and prevent cells from becoming cancerous. Normal cells cannot detach from their tissue and establish themselves somewhere else, because they will die on the way. Yet cancer cells somehow get around this requirement; they trespass aggressively into other tissues and metastasize to distant sites in the body without dying. Dr. Vuori’s work is aimed at identifying the molecular mechanisms that in normal cells makes them adhesion-dependent; false action of the very same mechanisms is likely to be the key step in allowing cancer cells to metastasize.
Kristiina Vuori's Bio
Kristiina Vuori earned her M.D. and Ph.D. at University of Oulu, Finland. After completion of internship and residency, she received postdoctoral training at Sanford-Burnham and was appointed to faculty in 1996. Dr. Vuori was selected as a PEW Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences in 1997. She has been co-Director of the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, housed at SBP, since its inception in 2005. She was appointed Deputy Director of the Institute's NCI-Designated Cancer Center in 2003, and Director of the Cancer Center in 2006. In 2008, she was appointed Executive Vice President for Scientific Affairs at SBP. She has been President of the Institute since April 2010.