Rachel Dahl Defends her Pathology M.S. Thesis

May 10, 2018

Rachel Dahl and Dr. Andrean Simons-Burnett

Rachel Dahl (M.S. in Pathology) successfully defended her thesis entitled "Targeting Interleukin-6 Trans-signaling in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma" this past April. Rachel performed her thesis work in the laboratory of Dr. Andrean Simons-Burnett where she focused on the role of cytokines in head and neck cancers. Upregulated interleukin-6 (IL-6) signaling is implicated in tumor progression, recurrence, metastasis and resistance to treatment in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Rachel investigated whether IL-6 trans-signaling, rather than classical signaling, was responsible for the pro-tumorigenic effects of the IL-6-associated inflammatory phenotype seen in HNSCC. She found that inhibition of IL-6 trans-signaling but not global inhibition of IL-6 signaling, suppressed tumor growth in HNSCC mouse models. In addition to Dr. Burnett, Drs. Weizhou Zhang, Fred Quelle, and Douglas Laux served on Rachel’s thesis committee. Rachel has been accepted into the Master of Public Health program at University of California Berkeley. In the long term, she hopes to become a physician and work in emergency medicine and community health, with an interest in cancer prevention programming