Dr. Offringa is Associate Professor of Surgery and of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. in 1991 from University of Leiden (the Netherlands), and she undertook a postdoctoral research fellowship from 1991–1996 at Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA). She joined the USC faculty in 1996. Research in the Offringa laboratory is/has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, American Lung Association, the Wright Foundation, the Whittier Translational Research Fund, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, Joan's Legacy, the Department of Defense, the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Fund, the Thomas G Labrecque Foundation, the V Foundation, the Canary Foundation, the Kazan Foundation, the Hoag Family Foundation, the California Community Foundation, STOP Cancer, and private donations from many generous individuals, including the Mettler family, Wally and Conya Pembroke, Michelle and Paul Zygielbaum, Steven Schwartz, Sharon Binder, Bonnie and Tony Addario, Larry Auerbach, Judy Glick, and others.
The Offringa lab studies the cancer that kills the most Americans every year (over 135,000 people per year, almost one Boeing 747 of people per day!). More people die of lung cancer than from breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined. The high death rate is largely the result of detecting this cancer too late.
The Offringa lab focuses on lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), the most common histological type of lung cancer. It arises in the alveoli or air sacs, which make up 90% of the lung surface and are thus inordinately exposed to airborne environmental carcinogens and viruses. We study global gene expression in primary LUAD samples and cell lines, the epigenetic basis of normal alveolar lung development, the effects of the environment on the lung epigenome, the interplay between the genome and the epigenome, and single cell transcriptomics.
We are also studying the role of single nucleotide polymorphisms in lung cancer predisposition; one aspect of early detection is risk classification. Understanding how genetic differences between individuals influences cancer risk will help identify the subjects at highest risk, for whom it is even more important that they should be screened.
The Offringa lab also studies small cell lung cancer (SCLC), the most aggressive type of lung cancer. SCLC rapidly metastasizes and patients have an average 5-year survival of just 6%. We are analyzing patients' anti-cancer immune responses to see how these could be leveraged for therapy.
Lastly, we are interested in protein engineering and biomolecular interactions, which are key to the development of new drugs and therapies. The Offringa lab oversees the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center's SwitchSENSE DRX2 Biosensor, which is used to analyze biomolecular interactions.