Dr. Ramanuj DasGupta is an Associate Professor at the New York University School of Medicine, where he has remained since 2006. He is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) since September 2012. The major focus of the DasGupta lab over the past 7 years has been the investigation of the molecular regulation of the Wnt/wingless signaling pathway using post-genomic approaches, such as RNAi-based functional genomic screens. The DasGupta lab has also significantly contributed towards the development of novel small molecule inhibitors, and microRNAs (miRNAs) against oncogenic ß-catenin, a critical effector of the Wnt pathway, which is often dysregulated in cancer. More recently, the DasGupta lab has identified and in the process of developing FN3 monobody-based Wnt/ß-catenin directed biosensors that can be developed as novel molecular tools in the study of the Wnt pathway in live cells, and also as companion diagnostics in patient-derived tumor cells. At inStem, Dr. DasGupta plans to apply the novel tools developed in his lab to investigate the function of the Wnt pathway in epithelial stem cells, and in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).

Stem cell regulation is critical for tissue development and maintenance. There is increasing evidence that suggest that defects in stem cell regulatory mechanisms mediated by conserved cell signaling pathways may contribute to human disease, including cancer. The Wnt/ß-catenin pathway is an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that controls many aspects of animal development, cell physiology, and stem cell regulation. Aberrant Wnt signaling has been implicated in a variety of human cancers, including in cancer stem cells (CSCs). Therefore, the DasGupta laboratory is focused on investigating the molecular mechanisms by which the Wnt/ß-catenin signaling pathway modulates cell fate decisions in stem cell homeostasis, animal development, and disease. The research in the DasGupta lab also aims to identify novel chemical and genetic tools using high-throughput/high-content screens (HTS/HCS) that can be developed as putative therapeutics against the oncogenic activity of the ß-catenin in cell culture/animal models of human disease.

The current research focuses on:

  • Development of novel screening platforms and technologies to identify

            small molecule and microRNA (miR) modulators of the oncogenic activity of ß-cat, and dysregulated Wnt signaling; 

          peptide-aptamers and/or stapled peptides that can either modulate protein-protein interactions (PPI) relevant to oncogenic ß-catenin activity, or can serve as molecular biosensors in patient-derived cancer cells;

  • Investigation of the function of the Wnt and other cell-signaling pathways/mechanisms involved in the regulation of the core pluripotency network (PTN) in mouse and human embryonic stem cells (ESCs).

The major emphasis of the laboratory at inStem is to investigate the function of the pathway-specific molecular/genetic regulators in the regulation of epithelial stem cell proliferation, migration, adhesion and death. This work will be carried out as part of the Tissue homeostasis and inflammation theme in collaboration with Dr. Raghavan’s laboratory. Additionally, the DasGupta lab has srt up a collaboration with Dr. Roel Nusse’s lab at Stanford University (as part of a CIRM-DBT grant) to determine the function of Wnt signaling modulators in asymmetric cell division in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).