Dr. Davis studies the biochemical and molecular mechanisms associated with obesity, chronic inflammation, and breast cancer. She teaches in the Cancer Cell Biology program and directs the Master in Health Sciences students.
The major theme areas to the Davis lab are: (1) Obesity and the risk and progression of breast cancer; (2) Biological factors (specifically, adipokines cytokines and growth factors) that contribute to obesity-induced dysregulation of adipocyte-tumor cell interactions; (3) Clinically relevant inflammatory targets underlying the risk of obesity and breast cancer. For over a decade, my experimental laboratory work has focused on obesity-related adipokines as mediators of breast and prostate cancer progression. Our lab has developed expertise using in vivo mouse models of mammary cancer (transgenic, diet-induced obesity models), to study how adipose tissue influences the metastatic potential of tumors. More recently, we have developed an interest in adipocyte biology and how cytokines and adipokines elaborated from adipose influence the breast tumor microenvironment in obesity. Our population interests are related to obesity and triple-negative breast cancer in underserved populations. We work closely with oncologists to understand breast cancer pathology, receptor status, and patterns of metastasis in Appalachia.
Career Development and Mentoring program
In an effort to advance the research mission, I actively engage faculty, residents, postgraduates and undergraduates on translational and basic science projects. I enhance the research mission by providing research training in the experimental science of cancer biology, accelerating multidisciplinary collaborations between clinical faculty and trainees, and coordinating career development activities within the Breast Cancer Research Program. My efforts assist our junior members with understanding how cancer biology and the tumor microenvironment intersect in human cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment. In an effort to advance the education mission of our Cancer Center, I stay current on cancer biology curricula, best practices for translational training for cancer biology students and career development by serving on the Executive Board of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium who share the National Cancer Institute’s goal of producing the highest quality cancer researchers. We published a white paper on the “Essential Components of Cancer Education” in Cancer Research (PMCID: PMC4681646). I oversee the Cancer Cell Biology curriculum and coordinate annual scientific forums for pre-doctoral training. Administratively, I direct the Biomedical Masters in Health Science Program where I advise students on clinical and translational education and research. Overall, my knowledge and leadership experience position me well to serve as a member of the Career Development and Mentoring program.