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Transcriptional and genetic diversity of healthy human melanocytes

Speaker: Dr Robert Judson-Torres

Dr Robert Judson-Torres has a long-standing interest in the fortitude of mammalian cells – specifically, how individual cells within a multicellular organism retain their “program” of morphologies and behaviors in complex and noisy environments and what causes these programs to become destabilized during tumorigenesis. He first pursued this interest as a graduate student at the University of California, San Francisco where he characterized transcriptional programs in skin cells that stabilize against induced dedifferentiation. Based upon this work, he was awarded the NIH Director’s Common Fund Early Independence award, which permitted him to establish an independent research program directly after receiving his PhD. Since 2015, his group, now located at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, has focused on characterisation of the transcriptional programs in human melanocytes that serve as barriers to melanoma progression. His work has been published in Nature, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, Nature Biotechnology, and Cancer Cell and has led to the development of novel molecular diagnostics for early melanoma detection. Robert has received multiple early career awards, including fellowships from the Sandler Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research, Harry J. Lloyd Charitable Trust, and 5 for the Fight.

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