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  • Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Health + Nutrition
Zeribe Nwosu, assistant professor, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics

Academic focus: Biochemistry, cancer biology, cancer metabolism.

Research summary: The aim of my research is to identify and study mechanisms through which cancer cells acquire and utilize nutrients. We currently mainly work on pancreatic cancer. The specific interests of my lab include to identify and characterize nutrient transporters, novel enzymes, oncogenic signaling, transcriptional or epigenetic regulators as well as the specific nutrients that cancer cells preferentially use to support their growth. We are also interested in understanding how other cells in the tumor microenvironment (e.g., immune cells and fibroblasts) support the cancer cells to “feed” and grow. To pursue these research interests, my lab integrates various cutting-edge approaches, including functional genomics, high-throughput screening, metabolomics, bioinformatics and mouse models.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I like current affairs and live events and so almost always check the news headlines when I wake up in the morning or before retiring at the end of the day. I also like to watch and play soccer.

What are your current outreach/extension projects?

I am currently conceptualizing an outreach project. It will focus on providing an opportunity for researchers or students from other institutions within the U.S. or abroad to come to Cornell and spend a couple of months for research experience. I am also involved in a new Cancer Metabolism Focus Group, which will be a powerful instrument for scientific outreach within and outside the Ithaca campus. Outside Cornell, I have active outreach initiatives through the Zeribe Nwosu Foundation with the goal of expanding educational opportunities through scholarships, seminars and mentorship.

What are three adjectives people might use to describe you?

I have heard people describe me as kind, motivated and careful.

What (specifically) brought you to Cornell CALS?

I was attracted by the holistically robust research environment at Cornell CALS and the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. I also saw several attractive prospects of bringing my unique research area to CALS as well as the opportunities to leverage the expertise at Cornell to pursue innovative cancer research while also training students.

What do you think is important for people to understand about your field?

I think it is important for people to understand that several scientists, advocacy groups and organizations are making efforts to learn more about cancer and propose solutions that can improve early detection and treatment. Those efforts range from training the next generation of cancer researchers, developing and applying state-of-the-art methods, conducting intensive research and clinical trials. Understanding that these efforts are ongoing will positively impact people’s support for cancer research and the hope for solutions.

What’s the most surprising/interesting thing you’ve discovered about Cornell and/or Ithaca so far?

I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Cornell’s digital and sustainable agriculture initiatives and the Cornell AgriTech campus, which I would like to visit. I have also heard about the veterinary clinic, which I understand is one of the best in the planet. I was very excited to hear that the animal clinic has facilities and equipment similar to what is obtainable in hospitals for human patients. For me it is interesting and inspiring to see these other big initiatives outside my immediate research area.

Learn more about Zeribe from his personal and lab website.

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