Dr. Aline de Conti (2016-2017 Mentor)
Dr. de Conti is a staff fellow researcher in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. de Conti has knowledge in key areas for cancer research, specifically, in the field of elucidation of mechanism(s) by which dietary factors and other environmental exposures that contributes for development or prevention of cancer. Dr. de Conti received a graduate degree in Pharmacy from the Faculty of Pharmacy Oswaldo Cruz, and Ph.D. in Food Science, from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. After this period Dr. de Conti moved to United States for a postdoctoral position at FDA-NCTR. In 2015, she was selected her to be a member of the NCTR research program to investigate the contribution of epigenetic changes to the process of cancer development. Dr. de Conti is author of 28 peer peer-reviewed articles.
During recent years, significant effort has been devoted to elucidating the fundamental mechanisms associated with the development of liver cancer, which incidence and mortality steady increases in the United States. At NCTR, Dr. de Conti, initially studied the mechanisms by which bioactive food components exert cancer-preventing activity. She then expanded the scope of her investigations to study the mechanisms by which furan, a food contaminant, can induce cancer. Specifically, she conducted an extension of National Toxicology Program study on furan. The average exposure of the U.S. consumers to furan is considered high. Importantly, relatively high furan levels have been detected in infant formulas and baby foods. Despite a large body of evidence for furan-induced liver cancer, the mechanism leading to liver tumor development is still unclear. Dr. de Conti, developed and applied high-throughput methodologies, such as microarrays for global gene expression analysis, chromatin immunopreciptation (Chip) and methylated DNA immunopreciptation analysis (MeDIP), to provide significant new information about new epigenetic targets. Specifically, Dr. de Conti determined specific epigenetic alterations associated with furan carcinogenicity, which represent novel targets for cancer prevention. These studies provide important baseline information for the FDA to formulate guidelines that consider the impact of epigenetic changes in evaluating susceptibility to human diseases, including cancer.
Dr. de Conti is an elected member of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), a professional and scholarly organization of scientists in the U.S. and abroad, which mission is “developing knowledge for the improvement of the health and safety of living beings, as well as, and the protection of their environment.” Moreover, Dr. de Conti is the editor in-chief of the Hispanic Organization of Toxicologist (HOT) newsletter. HOT is Special Interest Group within the SOT. Its main goal is to provide a forum, for the awareness and dissemination of toxicological information and issues as they relate to the Hispanic/Latino community.