Leslie Saucedo’s research focus is understanding the mechanisms that allow for unregulated cell growth—a basic hallmark of cancer. Cancer has long been understood to be a genetic disease; there are more than 100 genes implicated in promoting cancer when they are mutated. In particular, Saucedo uses fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) as a model for the underlying genetic changes that subvert the normal biology of cell growth and division. Fruit flies share with humans more than two-thirds of the genes known to play a direct role in human disease. Saucedo and her students focus primarily on the protein PRL-1 in regard to human cancer biology. While elevated levels of PRL-1 are used as a clinical marker to stage advanced cancers, Saucedo's work focuses on how misregulated PRL-1 functionally contributes to cancer. Uncovering such specific mechanisms in model organisms such as fruit flies is often the first step for developing targeted therapies to halt cancer progression. Saucedo’s genetic research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute. Her published work in journals such as PLOSONE, Mechanics of Development, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, and Nature Cell Biology has been well-cited in the field. Saucedo teaches courses in areas including Genetic Determinism, Cell Biology, and Cancer Biology.
B.S., University of Illinois, 1991; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999