Dr. Akinori Yoda is a geneticist and MDS researcher who earned his PhD in Molecular Biology and Genomics. He currently works with cancer researcher David Weinstock, MD at the Weinstock Laboratory at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His recent research article, "Mutations in G protein beta subunits promote transformation and kinase inhibitor resistance." will soon be published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature.
Dr. Yoda is interested in the genomics of oncogenes, and in particular the identification of rare genes that will contribute to better diagnosis and treatment of hematopoietic disorders. He explained that his work related to MDS involved working with mutations in the tumor suppression genes. Dr. Yoda clarified that locating these genes within people with MDS can be difficult, and isolating related proteins which activate cancer promoting mutations that promote cancer is a challenging problem that many researchers are interested in solving. The strategy favored by Dr. Yoda and his colleague to approaching this problem involves performing functional screens on large numbers of genetic samples. Using this strategy, those samples in which the specific oncogene is expressed and can be isolated are then used to produce cell lines. These cell lines are then exposed to multiple drugs, and combination therapies in the attempt to find suitable chemotherapy to target the mutations and inhibit further development of cancer.
The goal of this research agenda is to develop a screening tool for patients that can identify the specific oncogene that contributes to development of MDS. Dr. Yoda was excited at the opportunity the Evans Fellowship provided him to connect with researchers beyond Dana Farber and share ideas. Recently, as a result of the Fellowship, he had the chance to collaborate on work with researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, and will soon see results of that work published and shared with the wider MDS research community.