Alexandra Naba

Alexandra Naba, Ph.D, Principal Investigator

Alexandra Naba is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she is also an affiliate member of the Richard & Loan Hill Department of Bioengineering, and a member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center. Alexandra, a Parisian native, received her Ph.D. from the Curie Institute in Paris, France where she studied the role of the membrane-cytoskeleton linker, ezrin, in normal and tumor cell adhesion in the laboratory of Pr. Daniel Louvard under the supervision of Dr. Monique Arpin. 

For her postdoctoral training, Alexandra joined the laboratory of Dr. Richard Hynes at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she led a project aimed at understanding the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in tumor progression. The ECM is a requirement and defining characteristic of metazoan life. A handful of ECM molecules are known to make critical contributions to disease processes, but technical limitations have prevented a comprehensive analysis of this critical family of proteins. At MIT, Alexandra overcame these barriers and developed novel proteomic and bioinformatic methods to study the molecular composition of the ECM, pioneering the field of "matrisomics". Her work demonstrated striking differences in the matrisome of tumors of different metastatic potential and showed that distinct sets of ECM proteins could predict metastatic potential of primary tumors. More recently, Alexandra founded the Matrisome Project and MatrisomeDB, two resources aiming to disseminate tools and data on the ECM to advance ECM research.

Alexandra has published over 40 peer-reviewed publications. She has served since 2016 on the editorial board of Matrix Biology and since 2019 on the editorial board of Matrix Biology Plus. She was elected to the council of the American Society for Matrix Biology (2017 - 2021) and is serving since 2019 on the council of the International Society for Matrix Biology. Alexandra also served from 2020 to 2021 as a consultant to the Human BioMolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP), an initiative from the NIH aiming to develop an open and global platform to map healthy cells in the human body.

Alexandra has received numerous invitations to speak at national and international conferences and prestigious awards including the 2012 JBC/Herb Tabor young investigator award, the 2018 the Junior Investigator award from the American Society for Matrix Biology (ASMB), and the 2018 Rupert Timpl award from the International Society for Matrix Biology (ISMB). She is also the recipient of the 2018 UIC - College of Medicine Rising Star award. In 2020, Alexandra received the Philip L. Hawley distinguished faculty award, presented by the students of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics to faculty embodying “supportiveness, enthusiasm, and sincerity”.

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