Dr. Hallstrom received his PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Iowa in 1999. He then did post-doctoral studies with Joseph Nevins at Duke University studying the control of Rb/E2F induction of proliferation and apoptosis. He joined the University of Minnesota in 2007 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Hematology and Oncology division.
Immune Response in Pediatric Retinoblastoma Tumors
Our research interests focus on two major areas. The first is on the pediatric cancer retinoblastoma, which forms in the retina of children and infants. This cancer is caused by deregulation of the Rb/E2F pathway. We developed a novel mouse retinoblastoma model that develops rapid bilateral tumors in both eyes. Recently, we learned that these tumors express a gene expression "signature" that causes recruitment and accumulation of immune cells to these tumors. Since this is a highly sought after clinical goal, we are elucidating the mechanisms of immune cell recruitment so they can be targeted to kill cancer cells.
Epigenetics of Retinal Development
The second major research interest is in the epigenetic control mechanisms responsible for normal retinal development. These mechanisms can malfunction in pediatric retinoblastoma, and may be harnessed during retinal regeneration to produce new retinal cell types after they've been lost. In particular, we study the retinal function of an epigenetic regulator called UHRF2, which binds to a DNA epigenetic base called 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). It is still poorly understood how 5hmC accumulates during retinal development and how this leads to proper retinal gene expression. Furthermore, 5hmC is widely lost in human tumors, including retinoblastoma, although the mechanism behind its loss is unclear, as is the anti-tumor effectiveness of restoring 5hmC. We utilize genome-wide approaches to understand the altered gene expression and 5hmC distribution in retinal cells lacking the Uhrf2 gene.
Fellowships, Residencies, and Visiting Engagements
Honors and Recognition
AddressPediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation & Cellular Therapy
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