Christie Rodriguez Ramirez
Christie received a Bachelor’s in Science degree in Industrial Biotechnology from the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez. There she worked in the laboratory of Dr. O.M. Suarez and Dr. Oscar Perales studying metallurgy and the synthesis and functionalization of nanoparticles for biomedical applications. Upon completion of her B.S., she accepted a postbaccalaureate fellowship at The Mayo Clinic where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Hedin studying CXCR4 signaling in Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Christie entered the PIBS program in the fall of 2014 and was awarded a Rackham Merit Fellowship.
Christie is a Yale-Ciencia Academy fellow and is currently working under her thesis mentor Dr. Jacques Nör on the role of p53 in determining the cell fate of salivary gland cancer stem cells. She is also in the Translational Research Education Certificate Program (TREC) and is working with Dr. Paul Swiecicki as her clinical co-mentor. Additionally, she started in the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) certificate program as well as became a Science Communication (SciComm) fellow with the Museum of Natural History.
Christie's thesis is focused on determining the role of p53 in regulating the cell-fate of mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC) cancer stem cells (CSCs). Using tools such as MDM2 inhibitors and genetic activation and silencing of p53, she studies the effects of p53 in the regulation of MEC CSC maintenance. This work is focused on the effects of this pathway on the self-renewal and differentiation potential of the MEC CSCs as well as assessing the sensitivity of these cells to apoptotic and cell cycle arrest mechanisms activated by p53 in comparison to non-CSCs. Furthermore, her work will assess the potential of sensitizing these highly resistant cells to conventional chemotherapy upon p53 pathway activation.