Jeffrey Trent

Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D.

  • TGen President and Research Director

Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D.

Jeffrey M. Trent is President and Research Director of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix.
Prior to forming TGen in 2002, Dr. Trent served for 10 years as the Scientific Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Under his guidance, NHGRI's Division of Intramural Research became an internationally recognized research center in human genetics.
Dr. Trent's research has provided important insights into the genetic basis of cancer. He is the author of more than 400 manuscripts in the scientific literature, numerous book chapters and invited reviews, and has given hundreds of invited lectures. He has received numerous honors and awards, and has sat on the editorial boards of a dozen scientific publications. He specializes in developing and integrating novel "omic" technologies, supporting studies of molecular changes related to cancer risk and progression. He continues to participate in studies of other complex diseases in humans, and alongside Drs. Will Hendricks and Matt Huentelman, is a leader of TGen's canine hereditary cancer program.
Dr. Trent's previous faculty positions included The University of Arizona, where he was Deputy Director and Director for Basic Science of the Arizona Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the University of Michigan, where he held the Emanuel N. Maisel Professorship in Oncology, and was Professor of Human Genetics and Radiation Oncology, Head of the Cancer Biology Division of the Department of Radiation Oncology, and Deputy Director and Director of Basic Research for the Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also is a Diplomat of the American College of Medical Genetics.
Work in Dr. Trent's laboratory focuses on the study of genetic changes related to cancer predisposition and progression. He has worked the majority of his career on melanoma, recently serving as the Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Patricia LoRusso, Yale University on the Stand Up to Cancer/Melanoma Research Alliance Melanoma Dream Team. The focus on that project was using molecularly-guided therapy for patients with BRAF wild-type (BRAFwt) metastatic melanoma. In addition to continuing work on germline genetic alterations associated with melanoma risk, his laboratory, in concert with Dr. Hendricks’, has been among the most active in identifying and understanding the somatic changes associated with canine melanoma. The canine is a critically important model of human disease, and in the case of melanoma, the clear clinical association to the human is for the largely understudied mucosal melanomas.
Other work in his laboratory has been focused upon relating the recent advances in both molecular biology and cancer genetics of ovarian cancer. Specifically, he was one of the leaders of an international consortium which recently identified that small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type, (SCCOHT) displays frequent inactivating germline and somatic mutations in SMARCA4 {}. SCCOHT is an extremely rare, aggressive cancer affecting children and young women (average age of diagnosis 23 years old compared to 63 years old for the common epithelial ovarian cancers). Working with investigators at TGen (Will Hendricks), Mayo Clinic (Alex Sekulic), University of British Columbia (David Huntsman) and University of North Carolina (Buddy Weissman) they identified germline and somatic inactivating mutations in this SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling gene in nearly all SCCOHT. The genetic changes lead to SMARCA4 protein loss in >95% of SCCOHT tumors but in only 0.4% (2/485) of other primary ovarian tumors. Work is underway to understand how this pathogenomic implicate SMARCA4 in SCCOHT oncogenesis.


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