Kathy McGraw, Ph.D.
- Center for Cancer Research
- National Cancer Institute
- Building 41, Room B622
- Bethesda, MD 20892
Kathy McGraw, Ph.D. is a translational scientist with particular interests in the myeloid malignancies, Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Her research focuses on delineating the mechanisms by which vast genetic diversity in MDS and AML converges upon pro-inflammatory pathways leading to chronic inflammation that may be therapeutically exploited. She is also Principal Investigator of the Comprehensive Molecular and Clinical Evaluation of Pediatric and Adult MDS (NCT05350748).
Areas of Expertise
1) myelodysplastic syndromes 2) acute myeloid leukemia 3) myeloid malignancy 4) innate immunity 5) inflammation
Myeloid Malignancies Program
A trans-NIH multidisciplinary network of researchers and clinicians dedicated to improving early detection, diagnosis, prognosis and development of novel therapeutics for myeloid malignancies.
The Myelodysplastic Syndromes are heterogeneous, hematopoietic stem cell malignancies characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis and a high propensity for transformation to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Despite an increasing understanding of the biological processes driving the disease, there have been limited advances in treatment options for patients over the last two decades. Further, responses to current standards are not robust and often short lived. Our research focuses on unraveling the biological processes that promote disease manifestation in an effort to develop novel therapeutic strategies that may significantly improve the disease natural history and patient outcomes. In particular, we are focused on the role of inflammation in MDS pathogenesis and how we may target critical pathways therapeutically.
Chronic inflammation is central to MDS disease pathobiology. Inflammatory inciting phenomenon result in both increased cellular self-renewal as well as increased cell death of malignant hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) leading to maturation blocks and inadequate differentiation, the fundamental disease characterizing defect. Concurrently, chronic inflammation suppresses normal HSPC function and provides an acquired, competitive advantage to the malignant clone fostering disease progression. We find innate immune licensing, and specifically NLRP3 inflammasome activation, contributes to chronic inflammation and occurs in the presence of vast genetic diversity in MDS patients. Our research utilizes a number of molecular and biological approaches to delineate the mechanisms of inflammasome activation and chronic inflammation in the context of this genetic diversity using developed cell line models and primary patient specimens.
To this end, Dr. McGraw serves as Principal Investigator of the MDS Natural History and Biospecimen Acquisition protocol. Utilizing a comprehensive approach, primary specimens from study participants are utilized to investigate vast cellular processes including genetic missteps, dysregulation of cellular pathways and immune regulation, altered secretion of pro-inflammatory factors, and the intricate interplay with the bone marrow microenvironment all that cause inflammation and malignant clone expansion. In addition, we will be monitoring the natural history of disease in not only adult populations but severely under-studied pediatrics and adolescences and young adults (AYA).
Kathy McGraw, Ph.D.
Dr. McGraw obtained her B.S. from the University of Florida with a focus on Microbiology and Cell Science followed by a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of South Florida in the Department of Malignant Hematology and Clinical Sciences at Moffit Cancer Center & Research Institute. Her graduate studies focused on studying the pathobiology of Myelodysplastic Syndromes and the mechanisms of action of targeted therapeutics. After completion of her degree she continued performing translational studies focused on Myelodysplastic Syndromes and served as Principal Investigator on several IRB approved investigational studies. In 2015, she was promoted to Research Scientist at Moffitt Cancer Center and in 2016 was granted an Assistant Professor appointment at the University of South Florida in the Department of Oncologic Sciences. In 2021, she joined NCI/CCR in the Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression where she currently focuses on determining how genetic diversity in MDS leads to chronic inflammation and serves as the PI on the Comprehensive Molecular and Clinical Evaluation of Pediatric and Adult MDS (NCT05350748) .