As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, Ian Davis was first introduced to molecular biology while working in the labs of Richard Morimoto at Northwestern and Steven Heniko at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He then went on to graduate studies in mammalian genetics with Lester Lau at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Following completion of his M.D. from Northwestern University Medical School, he served as a resident and then chief resident in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital. He then completed subspecialty training in pediatric hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital, during which time he did postdoctoral studies with David Fisher. In 2006 he joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is currently an attending physician in pediatric hematology/oncology, affiliated with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the program in Chromatin and Epigenetics, and the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, and holds the G. Denman Hammond Associate Professorship for Childhood Cancer. In addition to a Rita Allen Foundation award, Davis received a Martin D. Abelo Scholar Award from the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
The Davis lab has been interested in the way that proteins and DNA interact in the nucleus to control gene expression and influence cancer development. Supported by hypothesis-driven computational analytics that enable the integration of genome-wide assays of chromatin accessibility, histone post-translational modification and transcriptomics, the lab has focused on the childhood and young adult bone tumor Ewing sarcoma and clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Major projects in the lab include exploration of the role of altered histone post-translational modifications in cancer, and the use of chromatin accessibility to explore the mechanisms of aberrant transcription and to identify novel chemical probes and epigenetically targeted therapies.