Profile of Dr. Justin M. Drake

Justin M. Drake, PhDDr. Justin Drake received a BS from Minnesota State University, Mankato in Biochemistry and a PhD from the University of Iowa in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and laboratory of Dr. Michael D. Henry. There, he developed and characterized an in vivo model of metastatic prostate cancer using bioluminescence imaging and a new in vitro model of metastasis, transendothelial migration. Using this model, he discovered that the EMT transcription factor, ZEB1, regulated the expression of key laminins and integrins important for basement membrane attachment thereby promoting metastatic disease.

As a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Owen N. Witte at UCLA, Dr. Drake focused on the development of unbiased phosphopeptide enrichment strategies coupled with quantitative mass spectrometry for the purpose of investigating non-mutated kinases and kinase pathway targets in late stage prostate cancer. He was able to demonstrate that tyrosine phosphorylation is increased in late stage human prostate cancer compared to normal prostate tissues and that these kinase activation patterns are highly conserved in multiple anatomically distinct metastatic lesions from the same patient, but differ between patients. These findings revealed that single biopsies in a given patient may reflect the biology underlying metastatic disease in that patient, opening up the realistic possibility for re-purposing new targeted agents for metastatic prostate cancer.

He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a Resident Member at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. His research on phosphoproteomics has recently been highlighted by the Department of Defense (DoD) Prostate Cancer Research Program and he has been funded by several agencies including the DoD, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and American Heart Association (AHA).  

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