Dr. Claudia Benavente studied Molecular Biotechnology Engineering at Universidad de Chile where her interest in pursuing cancer research first started. To further her studies, she came to the US to pursue a doctoral degree in Cancer Biology at The University of Arizona as a Fulbright scholar. She then moved on as a postdoctoral fellow to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN where she became familiar with childhood solid tumors. For the past two years, Professor Benavente has been an Assistant Professor at the Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Developmental and Cell Biology at UCI.
Dr. Benavente’s research focuses on understanding how pediatric tumors form in order to design new ways to treat them. Her research aims to understand how genes are normally controlled in developing tissues and how these processes (epigenetics) are perturbed to facilitate cancer to arise. This information guides her in the development of new therapies. Dr. Benavente focuses on retinoblastoma and osteosarcoma – the third and eighth most common forms of childhood cancers.
Her research has a direct effect on patients with these specific forms of cancers as her efforts focus on identifying novel therapeutic targets for these cancers. The gene at the center of her studies (RB1) is responsible for causing retinoblastoma and increasing osteosarcoma’s malignancy and is also commonly affected in virtually all cancers (pediatric and adult). As we learn how mutations in this gene – and the pathway it controls – cause cancer in children, we also increase our understanding of adult cancers and take a step closer to new cures.
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108 Sprague Hall