Cancer prevention is often under-appreciated as a tool for fighting cancer, but not by dos Santos! It has long been observed that full-term pregnancy early in life decreases breast cancer risk and dos Santos has dedicated much of her work to trying to figure out what links the two at the molecular level.
She found that pregnancy causes epigenomic changes in breast cells. These modifications don't alter the sequence of the DNA, but instead add "notes" and "flags" to specific regions that alter how the cells use the genes within the DNA. To better study these, and other, pregnancy-related changes, dos Santos also developed a mouse model of breast cancer that exhibits the pregnancy protective effects. She hopes that figuring out how early pregnancy decreases breast cancer risk will help researchers develop effective prevention strategies for all women.
The Pershing Square Sohn prize is awarded annually to early-career cancer researchers from the New York City area. It provides $200,000 a year for up to three years as well as networking opportunities. Last year, another female CSHL researcher, Mikala Eggeblad, received the award. Camilla was the only woman among this year's seven winners and we hope that next year she will be joined by several more!
dos Santos earned a PhD in Molecular Biology from State University of Campinas, Brazil, and did postdoctoral research here at CSHL in Gregory Hannon's lab, before getting her own lab as an Assistant Professor.
You can learn more about dos Santos' work here: https://psscra.org/winners/camila-dos-santos-phd/
Photo credit: CSHL