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Welcoming New-CAMB-ers: A Faculty Profile on Andrew E. Vaughan, Ph.D

August 27, 2017

As a graduate student in the lab of gene therapy pioneer Dr. Dusty Miller at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, Andy was at the forefront of the fast-paced field of retrovirology. There, he took on multiple projects, first dabbling in AAV-mediated gene therapy, and then honing in on the role of cancer stem cells using a mouse model of a unique Jaagsiekte retroviral-driven lung cancer. Intriguingly, the envelope protein of this retrovirus alone is sufficient to induce pulmonary adenocarcinoma. As his thesis work developed, Andy became more and more interested in cancer stem cells and factors underlying differences in lung cell susceptibility to the Jaagsiekte envelope protein.

 

The UPenn School of Veterinary Medicine welcomed Dr. Andrew Vaughan in April 2017. As the newest assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Vaughan is currently seeking new graduate students to join his laboratory team. Dr. Vaughan is part of the CAMB (DSRB) graduate group, and is a member of the Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM).

After completing his dissertation, Dr. Vaughan was ready to move on from the field of retrovirology. Guided by his passion for understanding the mechanisms of lung regeneration after epithelial injury, Andy joined the lab of Dr. Hal Chapman at The University of California San Francisco. During his postdoctoral research Dr. Vaughan focused on how tissues can respond to injury and undergo repair. He uncovered distinct stem and progenitor cell pools that contribute to epithelial regeneration, and demonstrated a novel role for Notch signaling in this dynamic process.

 

Lately the pulmonary field has been very excited about the influenza model of lung injury, and the robust regeneration observed after flu exposure. As this momentum continues, Andy remains enthusiastic about elucidating the mechanisms driving cell fate decisions after influenza-mediated injury. Questions such as “how do cell fate decisions influence the physiological function of the lung?” are a guiding force for his laboratory. Dr. Vaughan is also taking his research in new and exciting directions, and plans to investigate whether CRISPR and gene therapy approaches can be used to reprogram epigenetic states of lung cells

 

Dr. Vaughan brings unmistakable energy and passion for mentoring to CAMB, and is likewise excited about being at Penn where there are “great collaborators and mentors in the field, with lots of great people to bounce ideas off of.” While faced with many of the typical challenges new investigators encounter while setting up a lab, he remains elated with the “total freedom of possibilities to explore in projects, and the ability to pursue interesting tangents.”

 

Dr. Vaughan’s latest research titled “Local lung hypoxia determines epithelial fate decisions during alveolar regeneration” was recently published in Nature Cell Biology.

 

He welcomes inquiries for potential rotations from incoming students. Please contact him directly at andrewva@vet.upenn.edu.

 

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