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LaTonia D. Taliaferro-Smith, PhD

Research Instructor
Emory University School of Medicine

Upon completion of my B.S. in Pre-Med/Biology from Dillard University, I attended Howard University Graduate School as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Pre-doctoral Fellow where I earned a PhD Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Following graduate school, I completed a two-year postdoctoral appointment at The Cancer Center for Research and Therapeutic Development at Clark Atlanta University where my research focused on the role of the bone microenvironment in prostate cancer metastasis. Next, I completed a three-year NIH/IRACDA Postdoctoral Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) in the laboratory of Dr. Dipali Sharma at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. The FIRST fellowship is a successful program in the Emory University School of Medicine that provides postdoctoral fellows with both research support and training in teaching methods that are useful to their career development.

Current Mentored Research Instructor Training: Under the outstanding mentorship or Dr. Ruth O’Regan, my research has focused on deciphering the mechanisms that control the aggressive and metastatic behaviors of TNBCs and on identifying and validating clinically relevant biomarker as novel therapeutic targets for treating this deadly disease.

Research Interests

TNBCs account for a disproportionate number of breast mortalities, particularly in young African American and Hispanic women, and are attributed mainly to advanced stages of the disease at diagnosis and distant recurrences, which tends to peak three years after diagnosis. Despite initial responses to chemotherapy, their beneficial actions are limited and a majority of patients eventually experience metastatic recurrence. A major clinical challenge is the development of novel treatments for TNBCs that will improve overall survival rates.

Our laboratory currently focuses on biomarkers and biological mechanisms governing TNBC metastatic recurrence in an effort to aid in the development of novel therapies that reduce the deaths linked to TNBC metastasis. Our research goals are to decipher the mechanisms linking growth factor signaling to cell polarization, invasion, and metastasis in TNBCs and to evaluate effects of combined inhibitors as a therapeutic approach for inhibiting metastasis. We specifically examine the crosstalk between growth factor receptors and focal adhesion as a potential mechanism that regulates the metastatic behavior of TNBCs.


View publications on PubMed