Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences

Issam  Ben-Sahra, PhD

Issam Ben-Sahra, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

Focus of Work

Academic Focus

Cells in our body can be stimulated to grow and make more cells, such as during normal developmental growth, during the healing of wounds, and upon activation of immune cells in response to pathogens. The Ben-Sahra lab sets out to define the metabolic changes that occur when the signaling pathways are activated both physiologically in normal cells and pathologically in cancer cells. It has emerged recently that many of the genetic factors commonly altered in cancer cells target metabolic genes a...[Read full text]Cells in our body can be stimulated to grow and make more cells, such as during normal developmental growth, during the healing of wounds, and upon activation of immune cells in response to pathogens. The Ben-Sahra lab sets out to define the metabolic changes that occur when the signaling pathways are activated both physiologically in normal cells and pathologically in cancer cells. It has emerged recently that many of the genetic factors commonly altered in cancer cells target metabolic genes and especially nucleotide synthesis. Dr. Ben-Sahra’s studies establish important new mechanisms by which growth signals, relayed through the mTOR (mechanistic Target of Rapamycin) pathway, control the synthesis of the two classes of nucleotides, pyrimidines and purines, essential for duplication of our genetic material as DNA during cell division. The Ben-Sahra lab aims to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which cancer cells use cellular metabolism to promote cell proliferation. Using Mass spectrometry technology, chemical and genetic approaches, we ambition to measure metabolite concentrations and metabolic fluxes in tumorigenic versus non-malignant cells in vitro and in vivo, to systematically identify metabolic states that are sufficient to drive an oncogenic transformation. Elucidating this metabolic interface will provide a mechanistic understanding of tumor initiating events in patients suffering from tumor syndrome or cancer and ultimately lead to new therapeutic strategies to eradicate cancer.[Shorten text]

Education and Certification

  • MS: University of Sophia-Antipolis (Nice, France), Genetics (2007)
  • PhD: University of Sophia-Antipolis (Nice, France), Cell & Molecular Biology (2010)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harvard School of Public Health, Genetics (2016)

Contact

312-503-5318
Laboratory: 312-503-1692

Searle Building Room 7-665
320 E Superior
Chicago IL 60611