Purdue researcher to highlight hepatitis B advancements at next Science on Tap

January 14, 2013  


Ourania Andrisani

Ourania Andrisani
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University molecular biologist will speak on her research efforts to identify molecules and genes that may help in the early detection of the often fatal hepatitis B virus-mediated liver cancer at the next Science on Tap on Jan. 24.

Scientist Ourania Andrisani (pronounced O-ra-nee-a An-dri-sa-nee) will speak at 6 p.m. in the upstairs of the Lafayette Brewing Company, 622 Main St., Lafayette. The talk is titled "Chronic Infection by the Hepatitis B Virus and Liver Cancer."

The event is free and open to those 21 and older. Sponsors for the talk are the Purdue Department of Basic Medical Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Discovery Park.

Andrisani said liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the world and is usually fatal because of the absence of effective treatments and absence of biomarkers for the early detection of the disease, particularly in relation to chronic infection by the hepatitis B virus.

"Our studies have examined the molecules that are involved in a virus-infected liver cell to give rise to liver cancer," she said. "In this process, we have identified molecules with the potential to serve as therapy targets and genes that can serve as biomarkers for early detection of the disease."

Andrisani, who joined the Purdue faculty in 1991, is researching the mechanisms of signal transduction regulating cell growth and differentiation. Studies from her laboratory have contributed to the understanding of the mechanism by which the hepatitis B virus induces liver cancer in humans and signal transduction mechanisms involved in neuronal differentiation.

Her focus is to apply these basic science mechanisms to the clinical diagnosis and treatment of HBV-mediated liver cancer. She also is working to show how these basic mechanisms of neuronal development can help shed light on the pathogenesis of human neuroendocrine cancers, as in advanced and recurrent prostate cancer.

Her other research areas include cancer biology, prostate cancer, chromatin remodeling and microRNAs in cell growth and differentiation.

Andrisani has advised eight postdoctoral fellows, 13 doctoral and six master's degree students, participated on advisory committees of more than 50 doctoral students, and served as a reviewer for National Institutes of Health study sections and international funding agencies.

Originally from Greece, Andrisani received her bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo before joining the Purdue Biochemistry Department for her postdoctoral training.

Andrisani also studied at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y., in 1990, and the Heinrich Pette Institute in Hamburg, Germany, in 2004. She was named a full professor at Purdue in 2000.

The Science on Tap lecture series, led by Purdue graduate students Patrick Dolan and Becca Scott and postdoc Shaili Sharma, provides Purdue faculty and collaborating researchers the opportunity to share research activities in an informal setting, with presentations that are designed to appeal to a more general audience.

Attendance at the monthly event has averaged 80 during the program's first two years.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources: Ourania Andrisani, 765-494-8131, andrisao@purdue.edu

Patrick Dolan, 765-496-9336, pdolan@purdue.edu

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