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Jean J. Latimer, B.A., Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Jean Latimer, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, obtained her BA at Cornell University and her Ph.D. at the SUNY Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Latimer obtained postdoctoral fellowship training at University of California, San Francisco with embryologist Roger Pedersen, and DNA repair biochemist James Cleaver.

Dr. Latimer was an independent researcher at University of Pittsburgh, Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Latimer developed a variation of a stem cell culture technique to create a tissue engineering system for human breast tissue and tumors, which was published and patented. Normal cultures differentiate into an organotypic breast plumbing system and can be used in cancer and environmental chemical testing studies.

Dr. Latimer teaches at the graduate and professional levels, as well as performing community outreach. She has participated in projects involving over 7 million dollars in funding (NIH, DOD, Komen, Pittsburgh, Florida BC Foundations), using these resources to train 37 undergraduates, 17 graduate students, 8 fellows. Her work has generated 30 scientific papers and 2 patents. She has generated landmark reports with California BC Foundation, Institute of Medicine, and the Center for Environmental Oncology. Her work centers on the etiology of sporadic BC, to understand the environmental causes of BC, including those differentially present in women of distinct ancestries. Her unique contributions include the generation of a large set of explants and cell lines (used in multiple US laboratories), representing all stages of BC, including normal breast epithelium. She has received a number of awards and press coverage in national and international media.

About Dr. Latimer's research in her words:

My laboratory has developed a number of important in vitro models related to the human breast and breast cancer. My background in developmental biology and murine embryonic stem cells has allowed my laboratory to establish a tissue engineering system that involves multiple autologous cell types from the non-diseased breast. We have established 48/48 reduction mammoplasty extended explants,12 of which are from African American patients. This system culminates in an organotypic breast epithelial/myoepithelial ductal system in vitro, after one month, over a field of stromal fibroblasts. We utilize a rich serum-containing medium based upon embryonic stem cell culture called MWRI. Tumors can also be placed into the same system although we perform this without any stromal contamination. Tumors do not form normal ductal architecture in this system but we have a successfully created over 55 human breast tumor cell explants (<13 passage) and cell lines (>13 passages) from tumors of stages 0-IV at an 85% success rate. Thirteen triple negative tumors have been successfully cultured as explants from European white and African American patients. We published a landmark paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science involving 19 stage I tumors as primary explants and loss of functional DNA repair. Both types of cultures (non diseased and malignant) contain stem cell populations shown in a paper published in Stem Cells. Our goal is to use these tumor cultures for drug development and discovery. Our goal for the non-diseased breast cultures is to use them as a model system for environmental chemical assessment.

Research Interests:

My research involves human breast cancer etiology. We are exploring the loss of DNA repair mechanisms in early stage breast cancer as a source of genomic instability. In addition we are interested in the unique vulnerability of human breast tissue for DNA damage, that originates from environmental causes.

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