Preferred method of communication
Research and teaching
Area of Focus
- Chronic virus infections and Cancer
Summary of Research
The Corcoran laboratory is investigating the molecular origins of cancer, with the ultimate goal of discovering better ways to combat cancer. Fundamental cancer research is a key component of any cancer control strategy, and has the potential to greatly advance our understanding of the many complicated and diverse forms of cancer by revealing new molecular signatures that may enhance screening and prevention strategies and identifying new molecular targets for cancer therapies. Viruses that establish chronic infections are an undervalued yet significant feature of the human virome. Numerous, highly prevalent human viruses establish chronic infections that over time can trigger severe inflammatory disorders and cancer. Ten to fifteen percent of human cancers are caused by chronic virus infections. These include hepatitis B and C viruses, human papilloma viruses, and several members of the herpesviridae family, which after millions of years of co-evolution with humans are highly adept at reprogramming host immune responses and establishing life-long latent infection. Such complex virus-host interplay must be understood in molecular detail if we seek to intervene and treat these infectious cancers without causing harm. In addition, as has so often been the case in the past, understanding how viruses avoid normal intracellular checkpoints designed to prevent cancer and manipulate and subvert immune responses designed to target tumours provides a window into the complexities of cancer development and progression. My lab is interested in the complex interplay between chronic virus infection and cancer.
Dr. Corcoran completed undergraduate and graduate training at Dalhousie. As a graduate student in Roy Duncan’s lab, she investigated the mechanism of membrane fusion by a novel group of fusion proteins encoded by non-enveloped viruses. She then moved to Edmonton to join Jim Smiley’s lab; there, she became intrigued by the complex interplay between herpesvirus and cell while studying virus-mediated host shutoff. Dr. Corcoran returned to Dalhousie for a second PDF on the oncogenic herpesvirus, Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus in the lab of Craig McCormick. Dr. Corcoran started her independent research program at Dalhousie University in 2014, and has recently relocated her lab to the University of Calgary.