Justina Dolorita McEvoy

Research Interests

Justina McEvoy, Ph.D. is interested in understanding how the deregulation of developmental pathways can contribute to tumorigenesis in pediatric cancers. Dr. McEvoy is currently focused on two projects. The first project studies the role of the Rb tumor suppressor in regulation of differentiation pathways in a rare childhood cancer of the retina called retinoblastoma. She believes that Rb may play an important role in silencing the retinal progenitor program when cells exit the cell cycle and commit to specific neuronal fates. Inactivation of the RB1 gene during retinogenesis may aberrantly activate the progenitor program in specific retinal neurons making them susceptible to become tumorigenic. The second project studies the relationship between the genetic and epigenetic contributions in a pediatric cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Recent whole genome sequencing analysis of the rhabdomyosarcoma alveolar histological subtype reveal very few genetic alterations, with no recurrent mutations in any known cancer consensus genes. Dr. McEvoy believes deregulation of epigenetic mechanisms are driving tumor progression in these tumors. Overall, Dr. McEvoy hopes to shed light on fundamental mechanisms of normal development and tumorigenesis and provide novel therapeutic approaches for these devastating pediatric cancers.