Dr. Dianne Cox, Ph.D.
Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology
Developmental and Molecular Biology
My research specialty is signal transduction in cell biology.
One of my projects involves studying phagocytosis which is the mechanism by which cells engulf pathogenic microbes and apoptotic cells. Arthritis, whether due to bacterial infections or autoimmune diseases, is characterized by phagocytic leukocytes in the joint space. Preliminary data implicate a role for SHIP, an SH2 domain-containing inositol polyphosphate 5’ phosphatase, in regulating phagocytosis mediated by at least two types of receptors in macrophages.
Another major interest is the role of macrophages in metastatic cancers and in tumor formation. Macrophages play an important role in host defense against invading micro-organisms and they are also key players in initiating and maintaining an immune response. However, macrophages can also play negative roles, such as in chronic inflammatory disease. Also, tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), which are present in large numbers in many tumors, appear to play an important role in promoting the progression of solid tumors to an invasive, metastatic phenotype. Macrophages are therefore a prime target for therapies, but it is important to elucidate the mechanisms by which they are recruited to and activated in tissues.