Roba Abukwaik (she/her)
Chemotherapy is one of the prevailing methods used to treat cancer. Chemotherapy eliminates cancer cells by inducing DNA damage to trigger the cell death program "Apoptosis", but the response is often incomplete, with a subset of cancer cells resisting treatment. The p53 tumour suppressor gene is a key player in the cellular response to any DNA damage induced by these chemotherapies. Cells with DNA damage activate p53 which exhibits different dynamics to stop the cell cycle progression until the damage is repaired or drive the cell to death, depending on the DNA damage level. However, in addition to the critical role of p53, some other molecules are regulated in cancer cells that help cancer cells escape apoptosis and promote resistance to chemotherapy, limiting their efficacy. Roba's project aims to understand how the p53 dynamics discriminate the cell fates and investigate the factors and molecules involved in the heterogeneity between cells in activating apoptosis. She aims to develop a mathematical model that describes the activation of the apoptosis pathway by p53 in response to chemotherapy treatment and considers the most critical molecular interactions that may affect the cellular outcome.