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Michelle Tai

Cancer metastasis occurs when cancer cells spread into different parts of the body and is the leading cause of death in cancer patients. Bone is the most common site of metastasis for advanced stage breast cancer patients, and the resulting bone metastases are incurable and lead to painful complications. The underlying mechanisms for why breast cancer cells preferentially invade into bone tissue remain poorly understood. My proposed work incorporates biomaterials, tissue engineering, and sequencing technologies to develop a 3D model of breast cancer-bone metastasis composed of tissue engineered bone tissue and breast cancer cells. Such a model will allow us to study how invasion occurs and how it can be treated. I will optimize the bone-mimicking cues within our model, and I will use the model to study how bone cells and cancer cells communicate and to evaluate the effects of potential drug treatments.