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Carole A. Parent, Ph.D.

Portait Photo of Carole Parent
Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology
Deputy Laboratory Chief
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 37, Room 2066
Bethesda, MD 20892-4256

Parent's Video Cast

Produced and edited by Natalie Giannosa


Dr. Parent obtained B.Pharm. and M.Sc. degrees from the Universite of Montreal in 1985 and 1987, respectively. She received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1992. She then joined the laboratory of Dr. Peter N. Devreotes in the Department of Biological Chemistry of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for postdoctoral training. In 1996, she was promoted to the rank of Instructor in the same Department. She joined the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology at the NCI in May 2000, received tenure in 2006 and was appointed Deputy Chief in 2010. In 2011, Dr. Parent was also appointed Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Physical Sciences and Technology at the University of Maryland, College Park and in 2013 she was appointed Co-Director of the NCI-UMD Partnership for Cancer Technology.


Signal transduction events involved in the control of directed cell migration

The property of sensing and initiating directional migration in response to external cues is a fundamental property of biological systems. In metazoans, for instance, this behavior is essential for a variety of fundamental processes including embryogenesis, adult tissue homeostasis, inflammation and immune responses, as well as metastatic invasion. My research program aims to understand how cells detect and respond to external chemotactic signals and, in particular, how the spatial and temporal relay of chemotactic signals between cells impact single and group cell migration. The cornerstone of our approach to studying this paradigm is the tagging of signaling protein effectors with the green fluorescent protein (GFP) to visualize where, when and how relevant cascades are activated in live cells. Along with several other experimental tools, the outcome of our live imaging efforts led us to propose novel mechanisms to explain how chemotactic gradients are transduced and amplified in simple and complex biological settings.

Our studies of chemotaxis involve three distinct model systems with complementary virtues: the social amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum, a relatively simple system, genetically tractable and readily amenable to biochemistry; mammalian neutrophils, which function largely like Dictyostelium and allow us to study acute and chronic inflammation in a physiologically relevant fashion, and breast cancer metastatic cell lines, which provide a unique perspective into a devastating aspect of tumor biology. In addition to combining biochemical, cell biological and genetic approaches, we benefit from a long-standing collaboration with physicists to quantitatively describe the movements, with single cell resolution, of large groups of cells, and extract metrics that are relevant to the biological responses being studied. Such a plurality of model systems, along with a trans-disciplinary approach to their study, empowers us to understand signal transduction pathways in complex physiological settings, and directly translate our findings to clinically important processes such as inflammation, immune responses, tissue repair, and cancer metastasis.

This page was last updated on 4/14/2014.