Welcome to the Rai Lab Website
Research Interests:

Our research focuses predominantly on understanding and integrating the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind the dual phenomena of aging and cancer. Cancer is mainly a disease of the aged. Both advanced tumors and aging cells are characterized by oxidative stress, due to many factors including inefficient mitochondrial respiration, oncogene activation, dysfunction in  redox-protective mechanisms, and exposure to environmental stressors such as tobacco smoke.

At a cellular level, aging and tumorigenesis appear to be two sides of the same coin.  In normal cells, elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative DNA damage induce cellular aging or senescence, believed to be an important contributor to tissue degeneration associated with organismal aging. Additionally introduction of an activated oncogene into a normal cell will lead to senescence, underscoring its function as a critical tumor suppressor mechanism. Interestingly, we have found that a number of redox protective pathways that can trigger senescence when compromised in normal cells are also upregulated in aggressive tumor cells, suggesting a means by which the latter can escape induction of senescence. Thus, oxidative stress appears to be a double-edged sword in that not only does it promote cellular and likely tissue aging, but also creates conditions under which malignant and invasive cancers can be established.

Thus the goal of our research is two-fold  - understanding how protecting cells from oxidative stress prevents them from engaging the senescence pathway and contributing to cellular aging, and targeting redox pathways in tumor cells that facilitate evasion of tumor suppressor responses in order to sensitize these cells to chemotherapeutic and other anti-cancer interventions.

Faculty Member:
Priyamvada Rai, Ph.D.
Associate Professor,
Department of Medicine.
Faculty member, Graduate Program in Cancer Biology (CAB/PIBS)
Member, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/Tumor Biology
Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
University of Miami