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Erica Jackson

Senior Scientist, Discovery Oncology

Postdoc mentor iconPostdoc Mentor
  • 8
    years at Genentech
  • 4
    publications (2009-14)

I came to Genentech 7 years ago after completing my postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF. At the time I was deciding whether to pursue a career in academia or a career in industry. In thinking about what motivated me to be a scientist, I realized that the reason I did cancer research was pretty simple. I wanted to help patients, and there’s no place better to do that than Genentech. As an added bonus I get to work with outstanding scientists in a highly collaborative environment.

I’m interested in non-genetic mechanisms of intra-tumoral heterogeneity. Not all tumor cells have the same properties or capacities and individual populations seem to play different roles in the tumorigenic process. There may be a specific population that has innate therapeutic resistance, another that can escape immune detection, another that is highly invasive, etc. The overall properties of a tumor as a whole are really the sum of the capacities of each of these distinct populations. What complicates things further, is that it appears that there is interconversion of cells between populations, which in some cases may be enhanced in response to a stress or stimulus. This is really a fascinating area of research that may have important implications for our approach to treating cancer.

Postdoctoral Mentor

Having the opportunity to mentor postdocs doing true basic research projects is one of the key factors that makes Genentech the unique and highly respected company that it is. Having postdocs in the lab allows us to dive deeply into the biology of cancer, and the mechanisms by which different genes and pathways influence tumor cell heterogeneity, therapeutic resistance and relapse. I really enjoy the opportunity to mentor very smart and driven people, and to see them develop into independent scientists. Postdocs help all of us remember why we love science so much, and they bring an energy and excitement that everyone in the group benefits from.

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