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Stephanie Halene, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine (Hematology); Chief, Hematology; Director, DeLuca Center for Innovation in Hematology Research, Yale Cancer Center; Assistant Medical Director CRSL, Yale Cancer Center

Research Summary

Dr. Halene's laboratory studies hematopoiesis and myelopoiesis and in particular how abnormalities of the hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells lead to diseases with abnormal numbers and function of blood cells such as in Myelodysplastic Syndromes and Leukemia. The laboratory uses primary patient cells and murine models to study mechanisms of disease leading to myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukemia with the ultimate goal to contribute to the development of novel treatments.

Specialized Terms: Hematopoiesis; Leukemia; Myelodysplasia; Myelodysplastic syndrome; Stem cells; Humanized mice; Xenotransplantation; PDX models; RNA biology; RNA splicing; RNA modifications

Extensive Research Description

Below find a description of our ongoing research projects in the Halene Lab:

Splicing Factor Mutations in Myeloid Malignancies: We seek to understand the role of mutations in splicing factors (SFs), present in nearly 50% of patient with MDS and a subset of patients with AMLs. Mutations in SFs are not only recurrent in nature, affecting specific amino acid positions, but also mutually exclusive; patients carry mutations in only one splicing factor. This suggests a common mechanism in the pathogenesis of MDS. We employ structural, molecular biology, and multi-omic approaches, and in vivo xenotransplantation to determine disease mechanism and develop novel therapeutics.

RNA modifications: We are interested how RNA modifications determine hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell function. We discovered that loss of METTL3 and the m6A RNA modification results in the aberrant formation of double stranded RNA and activation of a deleterious innate immune response. We treasure numerous collaborations within Yale's RNA Center to apply cutting edge technologies and deep understanding of RNA biology to hematologic disorders.

MDS/AML Co-clinical Models: MDS and AML are inherently difficult to study. They are heterogeneous diseases; only rare human cell lines have been successfully derived from patients’ MDS and few from patients with AML; hematopoietic and leukemic stem cells (HSC/LSC) do not grow in culture and MDS stem cells fail to efficiently engraft even in the best currently available mouse models. In collaboration with the Flavell laboratory we have developed the first highly efficient xenotransplantation model for MDS/AML in the humanized MISTRG mice amenable to drug treatments. We continue to improve upon this model to extend our studies to diseases of red cell production and the human immune system. We are collaborating with the Fan lab in the Yale Biomedical Engineering Department and the Grimes lab at Cincinnati Children's Hospital to generate multi-omic maps of MDS and AML in their microenvironments.

Hematology Tissue Bank: The Hematology Tissue Bank has been established to give researchers access to critical patient samples for the study of hematologic diseases. Should you wish to obtain samples for your research contact Dr. Halene via phone (203 785-7002) or e-mail (stephanie.halene@yale.edu).

Mouse Modeling Core (AMC) – Yale Cooperative Center of Excellence in Hematology (YCCEH): The Mouse Modeling Core, directed by Richard Flavell and Stephanie Halene, is part of the YCCEH with the goal to provide researchers with access to the latest technologies for hematologic studies in animal models. The AMC offers expertise, technical assistance, and mice for human-into-mouse xenotransplantation studies. It offers training and technical assistance in the study of hematopoiesis and benign hematologic questions in mice.

Coauthors

Research Interests

Hematopoiesis; Hematopoietic Stem Cells; Leukemia; Myelodysplastic Syndromes; RNA Splicing; Alternative Splicing; Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays

Research Images

Selected Publications

Clinical Trials