Suzie Chen received her Ph.D. degree in genetics from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA. Her graduate research was focused on the development of spontaneous lymphoma in the progeny of two inbred strains of mice with no known predisposition to lymphoma. She had demonstrated that the onset of spontaneous T-cell lymphoma in the progeny was a result of genetic complementation. She carried out her postdoctoral training at Columbia University where she began work on cell transformation and DNA tumor virus SV40. While at Columbia University, New York, NY, USA, she became interested in the regulation of cell differentiation. Through utilizing molecular cloning techniques and functional assays, Chen's research group identified two small fragments of genomic DNA, each one having the ability to induce adipocyte differentiation when introduced into a variety of fibroblasts. When she begun her independent position at Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, USA, she expanded the studies in whole animals by making transgenics with cloned DNA fragments. One out of five founder mice developed spontaneous melanoma due to “insertional mutagenesis”. They identified and confirmed that ectopic expression of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1) in melanocytes is sufficient to induce spontaneous melanoma development in vivo. They also demonstrated that about 60% of human melanoma cell lines and biopsies showed aberrant GRM1 expression. Using an FDA approved drug that inhibits the release of glutamate, a natural ligand for GRM1 led to a decrease in the number of viable melanoma cells in vitro and in vivo. These laboratory-based findings were translated to the clinic in a Phase 0 Clinical Trial. Assessment of cell proliferation and apoptotic markers revealed that four out of twelve patients in Phase 0 trial had pronounced responses to Riluzole administration as shown by increased apoptosis and tumor shrinkage. She is currently a Professor at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy Rutgers University.
Biography Updated on 2 January 2011