Dora Cavallo-Medved, Ph.D., WCRG Director

Position: Assistant Professor, Biomedical Sciences
Affiliation: University of Windsor


Areas of Expertise: Role of tumour microenvironment in cancer aggressiveness & progression; 3-dimensional cell modeling

Research Overview

Dr. Cavallo-Medved’s research is focused on the breast cancer microenvironment which is composed of breast cancer cells and normal stromal cells (e.g. endothelial cells, fibroblasts, macrophages, etc.) that interact with each other using chemical and molecular signals. The interactions between these cells have been shown to propagate cancer growth and invasion. One mechanism is through the production and secretion of extracellular matrix degrading enzymes termed proteases. Her main research interest is focused on the role of two proteases, cathepsin B and urokinase plasminogen activator, in breast cancer progression and invasion. Given that proteases are produced and secreted by both cancer and stromal cells, we have developed 3 dimensional co-culture cell models that mimic the tumor microenvironment to better understand the basic tumour:stromal biology of breast cancer. These models can be used in conjunction with live-cell imaging to examine the functional role of these proteases in the breast cancer microenvironment. In these models, breast cancer cells form 3D spheroidal structures that become larger and more invasive when stromal cells are introduced. These aggressive characteristics are correlated with an increase in production and activity of proteases and can be repressed with the addition of protease inhibitors. Our long term objectives are to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that are regulating protease expression and activity within the breast cancer microenvironment in an effort to identify novel therapeutic strategies against the disease. Outside of the lab, Dr. Cavallo-Medved teaches over 500 undergraduate students each semesters and received the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association Teaching Award in 2017.

Selected Publications

Mohamed, H.T., El-Husseiny, N., El-Ghonaimy, E.A., Ibrahim, S.A., Bazzi, Z.A., Cavallo-Medved, D., Boffa, M.B., El-Shinawi, M., Mohamed, M.M. (2018). IL-10 Correlates with the Expression of Carboxypeptidase B2 and Lymphovascular Invasion in Inflammatory Breast Cancer: The Potential Role of Tumor Infiltrated Macrophages. Current Problems in Cancer, 42(2), 215-230.

Samna, M., Cavallo-Medved, D., Franco, O.E., Chalasani, A., Ji, K., Aggarwal, N., Anbalagan, A., Chen, X., Mattingly, R.R., Hayward, S.W., Sloane, B.F. (2017). Pathomimetic Avatars Reveal Divergent Roles of Microenvironment in Invasive Transition of Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. Breast Cancer Research, 19, 56-74.

Baize, Z.A., Balun, J., Cavallo-Medved, D., Porter, L.A., Boffa, M.B. (2017). Activated Thrombin-Activatable Fibrinolysis Inhibitor Attenuates the Angiogenic Potential of Endothelial Cells: Potential Relevance to the Breast Tumour MicroenvironmentClinical Experimental Metastasis, 34, 155-169.

Baize, Z.A., Lanoue, D., El-Youssef, M., Romagnuolo, R., Tubman, J., Cavallo-Medved, D., Porter, L.A., Boffa, M.B. (2016). Activated Thrombin-Activatable Fibrinolysis Inhibitor (TAFIa) Attenuates Breast Cancer Cell Metastatic Behaviours Through Inhibition of Plasminogen Activation and Extracellular Proteolysis. BMC Cancer, 16, 328.

Rezaeian, I., Tavakoli, A., Cavallo-Medved, D., Porter, L.A., Rueda, L. (2016) A Novel Model Used to Detect Differential Splice Junctions as Biomarkers in Prostate Cancer from RNA-Seq Data. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 60, 422-430.