As a Branco Weiss Fellow, Dr. Sito Torres-Garcia will develop, deploy, and integrate novel experimental and computational approaches to investigate the role of epigenetic mechanisms in the emergence and evolution of therapy resistance in metastatic cancer. Unravelling the contribution of epigenetic factors to cancer progression under therapy could shed light on conserved principles of eukaryotic adaptation and reveal potential therapeutic opportunities to improve patient outcome.
- Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2022–present
- Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2021–2022
- PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 2016–2021
- MSc in Functional Genomics, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands, 2014–2016
- Summer Internship, Wellcome Sanger Institute, Hinxton, United Kingdom, 2010
- BSc in Biology, University of Malaga, Spain, 2010–2014
- PhD Award with No Corrections, University of Edinburgh, 2021
- EMBO Reports Best Poster Prize, EMBO 10th International Fission Yeast Meeting, Barcelona, 2019
- The Darwin Trust of Edinburgh PhD Scholarship, 2016
- MSc Award with Cum Laude distinction, Wageningen University and Research, 2016
- Erasmus+ MSc Traineeship Grant, European Commission, 2016
- BSc Award with 19 Honours (Spanish Matrícula de Honor) distinctions, University of Malaga, 2014
- Front Line Genomics: Heterochromatin-dependent processes contribute to fungal resistance
- GEN: Epigenetics drives antifungal resistance
- Popmech: Кофеин сделал грибки устойчивее к лекарствам (in Russian)
Branco Weiss Fellow Since
Epigenetics, Cancer Biology, Evolution
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
The emergence of therapy resistance in metastatic cancer – wherein tumor cells from a primary site progressively colonize distant organs – impedes curative therapy and results in patient relapse. It is known that resistance can be caused by genetic mutations, but in some cases, there is no clear genetic basis, suggesting that non-genetic (i.e. epigenetic) mechanisms might drive resistance. Epigenetic mechanisms may drive therapy resistance in cancer cells through formation of epimutations – changes in gene expression that are independent of changes in DNA sequence. Such epimutations may provide initial tolerance, allowing a fraction of tumor cells to survive and later acquire secondary genetic mutations that drive disease progression to relapse. Epimutations have been proposed to facilitate adaptive phenotypic responses to external insults, but experimental evidence is scarce. Dr. Sito Torres-Garcia’s research demonstrated that epimutations can drive environmental adaptation in fission yeast, but whether similar mechanisms play a role in complex mammalian systems such as cancer remains elusive.
Dr. Sito Torres-Garcia will investigate the potential for epimutations to prime adaptive evolution in metastatic cancer. Taking a cross-disciplinary approach, he will blend novel laboratory models with innovative experimental and computational methodologies to study cancer progression under standard-of-care therapy at unprecedent detail. He will then maximise the translational impact of his research by implementing newly acquired knowledge into clinically relevant models. Dr. Torres-Garcia’s project aims to unravel conserved epigenetic mechanisms that drive therapy resistance in metastatic cancer, but also general adaptation to stress in mammalian cells. Understanding these mechanisms could shed light on broad principles of eukaryotic adaptation and reveal potential therapeutic opportunities to improve patient outcome.