Nora C Heisterkamp



Pediatrics, Pathology (Division of Hem-Onc)
Keck School of Medicine
The Saban Research Institute
Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

Research Topics

  • Cancer genetics
  • Signal transduction
  • Leukemia-stromal adhesion mechanisms
  • role of the BAFF-R in survival of ALL cells
  • molecular mechanisms of environmentally-mediated drug resistance
  • glycomics as a tool for diagnosis and treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Research Images

Research Overview

Mechanisms of leukemogenesis and drug resistance

Accomplishments in the area of cancer research include the unraveling of major aspects of the molecular basis of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and Ph-chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): during the period of 1981-1984, we identified two genes, BCR and ABL, which become fused as a result of a chromosomal translocation in CML and Ph-positive ALL.

Current ongoing areas of study:
- We study interactions of acute lymphoblastic leukemias with cells in their environment and how these interactions, such as those promoted by the SDF1alpha-CXCR4 axis, protect them against chmeotherapy. We showed that the inhibition of this axis can make the leukemia cells more sensitive to drug treatment.
- We aim to identify cell surface molecules on acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells that can be used to more effectively treat this type of leukemia. We were the first to identify the BAFF-R on acute lymphoblastic leukemias.
- We do experiments to understand how specific carbohydrate modifications and carbohydrate-binding proteins affect acute lymphoblastic leukemia survival and drug resistance.