Joseph Landry, Ph.D., came to the medical school with a solid background in the basic science of epigenetics — how genes are regulated without altering the DNA itself. Now, as an assistant professor in human and molecular genetics, he’s hoping to apply that knowledge to the real-world problem of breast cancer.

Using a mouse model of human breast cancer, Landry investigates how epigenetic processes may help cancerous tumors hide themselves from the body’s immune defenses and how they may contribute to cancer’s spread through metastasis.

Landry earned his Ph.D. in genetics from Stony Brook University where he studied histones. He went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health where he studied chromatin remodeling. Both histones and chromatin are structures that can control the accessibility of genes to be expressed as proteins.

With funding from the V Foundation for Cancer Research and the Jeffress Foundation in hand, Landry was attracted to the MCV Campus because of its expertise in translational research. “I came to VCU for the opportunity to work with [department chair] Paul Fisher, to work with a lot of people who are well-versed in applying basic research findings to develop therapeutics,” he said.