Among the changes that occur during pregnancy, those affecting the breasts have been found to subsequently modify breast cancer risk. My laboratory investigates how the signals present during pregnancy permanently alter the way gene expression is controlled and how these changes affect normal and malignant mammary development.
Camila dos Santos’ laboratory studies the epigenetic regulation of normal and malignant mammary gland development, with an emphasis on the alterations brought by pregnancy. Significant changes mark the pre- and post-pubescence mammary developmental stages, but those associated with pregnancy have the greatest effect on cellular function, tissue reorganization, and breast cancer susceptibility. Her group has recently found that mammary glands react differently to a second pregnancy than they do to the first one, with associated changes in DNA methylation. These findings suggested that pregnancy changes the state of mammary cells, and these may permanently alter how they react to the next pregnancy. In addition, the dos Santos lab is exploring how the pregnancy-induced epigenetic changes might influence cell transformation and the risk of breast cancer. This research utilizes genomic and computational approaches to define the pre and post-pregnancy mammary epigenome. An additional objective of the dos Santos’ laboratory is to use functional genomics to discover novel transcriptional regulators that modulate mammary stem cell self-renewal, lineage specification, and cell transformation. The long-term objective of Camila’s group is to improve the notion of the mammary epigenome during normal development and use this information to gain insight into new preventive and curative strategies to target breast cancer.
The V Foundation: V Scholar Award
Pershing Square Sohn prize to Camila dos Santos
May 22, 2018
New York City and Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Assistant Professor Camila dos Santos, Ph.D., has been awarded the Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research. The announcement was made today by The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance. This is the fifth year the Alliance has...
A protein that stem cells require could be a target in killing breast cancer cells
June 1, 2017
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — For years, cancer experts have realized that cancerous cells behave in certain ways like stem cells, unspecialized cells that when exposed to certain signals, can “differentiate.” When a stem cell differentiates, it starts down a one-way path that will result in its specialization and eventually its death. For instance, a...
MWCABC donates $65,000 to breast cancer research at CSHL
December 14, 2016
Members of the Research Committee of Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer (MWCABC) presented a $65,000 check to support Dr. Camila dos Santos’ breast cancer research. Since 1999, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has received nearly $500,000 in funding for breast cancer research from MWCABC.
One experiment: How the breast “remembers” a first pregnancy
July 2, 2016
Women consistently report that nursing is easier after a first pregnancy. Some remarkable genomic work led by Professor Greg Hannon provides a biological reason for this effect and shows more broadly how bodily experiences can prepare us to respond to future stimuli. The razor-thin slice of breast tissue pictured here is sampled from a mouse...
Cancer researcher Camila dos Santos of CSHL is named a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar
June 29, 2016
Cold Spring Harbor, NY – Assistant Professor Camila dos Santos of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has been selected as one of seven 2016 Rita Allen Foundation Scholars. The award, which was announced today by the Rita Allen Foundation, supports young leaders in biomedical science whose research holds great promise for revealing new pathways to...
Breast cancer survivors show Camila dos Santos what’s important about her research
November 17, 2015
LabDish blog Biology has always felt personal to Assistant Professor Camila dos Santos. Looking back on high school biology in her native Brazil, she remembers, “it was just so interesting to me that there was a field of research that makes you understand how your body works.” Gaining a deeper understanding of how the body...
Breaking down breast cancer at CSHL
October 30, 2015
LabDish blog Breast cancer awareness is important, but it’s action that saves lives. Whether developing more accurate and affordable tests for patients or mapping out the treacherous landscape of breast cancer genetics, researchers at CSHL certainly aren’t putting the fight on pause even as the pink ribbons dissipate. Explore how they’re attacking breast cancer from...
Long Island man continues the fight against breast cancer in memory of his fiancé
October 20, 2015
Just shy of her 32nd birthday, Carissa Maringo of Mastic, NY lost her valiant battle against breast cancer. It was April 2009, and she and her fiancé Michael Focazio had planned to participate in the John T. Mather Hospital’s “Family Walk for Hope” which was scheduled for May. Carissa did not make it but Michael...
Scientists show the mammary gland ‘remembers’ prior pregnancy, spurring milk production
May 7, 2015
Camila dos Santos, as a postdoctoral researcher in the Hannon lab, identified the epigenetic changes that occur after pregnancy in the mouse mammary gland. The work offers insight into how pregnancy early in life may protect against breast cancer later.
Cancer research brief: Gone fishin’
April 11, 2013
A novel surface marker helps scientists ‘fish out’ mammary gland stem cells Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Stem cells are different from all other cells in our body because they retain the remarkable genetic plasticity to self-renew indefinitely as well as develop into cell types with more specialized functions. However, this remarkable self-renewal capacity comes...
Urick, A. K. and Hawk, L. M. and Cassel, M. K. and Mishra, N. K. and Liu, S. and Adhikari, N. and Zhang, W. and Dos Santos, C. O. and Hall, J. L. and Pomerantz, W. C. (2015) Dual Screening of BPTF and Brd4 Using Protein-Observed Fluorine NMR Uncovers New Bromodomain Probe Molecules. ACS Chem Biol, 10(10) pp. 2246-56.
Dos Santos, C. O. and Dolzhenko, E. and Hodges, E. and Smith, A. D. and Hannon, G. J. (2015) An Epigenetic Memory of Pregnancy in the Mouse Mammary Gland. Cell Reports,
Dos Santos, C. O. and Rebbeck, C. and Rozhkova, E. and Valentine, A. and Samuels, A. and Kadiri, L. R. and Osten, P. and Harris, E. Y. and Uren, P. J. and Smith, A. D. and Hannon, G. J. (2013) Molecular hierarchy of mammary differentiation yields refined markers of mammary stem cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(18) pp. 7123-7130.
Hodges, E. and Molaro, A. and Dos Santos, C. O. and Thekkat, P. and Song, Q. and Uren, P. J. and Park, J. H. and Butler, J. and Rafii, S. and McCombie, W. R. and Smith, A. D. and Hannon, G. J. (2011) Directional DNA Methylation Changes and Complex Intermediate States Accompany Lineage Specificity in the Adult Hematopoietic Compartment. Molecular Cell, 44(1) pp. 17-28.
Obad, S. and Dos Santos, C. O. and Petri, A. and Heidenblad, M. and Broom, O. and Ruse, C. and Fu, C. and Lindow, M. and Stenvang, J. and Straarup, E. M. and Hansen, H. F. and Koch, T. and Pappin, D. and Hannon, G. J. and Kauppinen, S. (2011) Silencing of microRNA families by seed-targeting tiny LNAs. Nature Genetics, 43(4) pp. 371-380.Additional materials of the author at
CSHL Institutional Repository