Camila dos Santos completed undergraduate, master’s and doctoral studies at the University of Campinas in Brazil. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as a postdoctoral fellow and research investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory with Gregory Hannon, a 2000 Rita Allen Foundation Scholar and a member of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee. She became an assistant professor at CSHL in 2015. In addition to the Rita Allen Foundation award, dos Santos has received a Glen Cove Cares Research Award, a Pershing Square Foundation Scholar Award and a research award from the Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer.
The dos Santos laboratory aims to uncover the molecular basis of pregnancy-induced breast cancer protection. In humans, a full-term pregnancy before the age of 25 is known to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by more than one-third. In rodents, pregnancy can decrease the frequency of carcinogen-induced mammary tumors by more than 60 percent. A recent study by dos Santos and colleagues has shown that transitions through pregnancy lead to massive and stable reorganization of DNA methylation in mammary epithelial cells. Now they propose to further characterize this phenomenon by mapping genome-wide enhancer activity in this system. They will test the hypothesis that the parous (post-pregnancy) epigenome modulates the effects of breast cancer oncogenes on epithelial cell oncogenesis. In addition, they will investigate pharmacological strategies that mimic these effects, which may provide a path toward strategies for breast cancer prevention.