Carlos J. Pérez Kerkvliet

Carlos Santos Pérez


Entering Class:


University of Puerto Rico-Cayey
Biology major
B.S., 2014

MSTP Student Governance:

  • Student Advisory Committee 2014-2016
  • Retreat Planning Committee, 2015
  • Student Admissions and Recruitment Committee, 2018-2020

Honors and Awards:

  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Predoctoral MD/PhD Fellows, National Cancer Institute, 2019-2022

Thesis Advisor: Carol Lange, Ph.D.

Hobbies and Interests:

  • Puerto Rican and United States politics
  • Running
  • Hiking

Thesis Research:

Therapeutic options for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) are limited. This subtype of breast cancer (BC) lacks expression of molecules currently exploited for targeted therapy, including steroid hormone receptors: estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR), as well as human epidermal growth factor 2 receptor (HER2). TNBC is the most aggressive, metastatic, and deadly form of BC, and it accounts for 20-30% of all BC cases. Although lacking these receptors, there is an emerging role of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in promoting progression and chemotherapy resistance in TNBC. Our main objective is to understand the role of oncogenic molecular signaling associated with GR. Our preliminary data indicate that TGFβ and 14-3- 3ζ modulate the activity of the GR, presumably via phosphorylation and direct interaction. Notably, both TGFβ and 14-3- 3ζ have been shown to be elevated in TNBC. We hypothesize that TGFβ and 14-3- 3ζ act in concert with GR to promote oncogenesis. To address this hypothesis, we will identify the mechanisms of phospho-Ser134 GR and 14-3- 3ζ interactions in TNBC progression. Additionally, we will test whether phospho-Ser134 GR is critical for proliferation and metastasis of TNBC cells in vivo. This project is relevant to public health because phospho-Ser134 GR and its associated signaling factors are excellent drug targets and possible biomarkers that will assist in better detection, diagnosis and management of TNBC.

Publications (Pubmed):

Perez Kerkvliet C, Dwyer AR, Diep CH, Oakley RH, Liddle C, Cidlowski JA, Lange CA. Breast Cancer Res. Glucocorticoid receptors are required effectors of TGFβ1-induced p38 MAPK signaling to advanced cancer phenotypes in triple-negative breast cancer. 2020 May 1;22(1):39. PMCID: PMC7193415
Regan Anderson TM, Ma S, Perez Kerkvliet C, Peng Y, Helle TM, Krutilina RI, Raj GV, Cidlowski JA, Ostrander JH, Schwertfeger KL, Seagroves TN, Lange CA. Taxol Induces Brk-dependent Prosurvival Phenotypes in TNBC Cells through an AhR/GR/HIF-driven Signaling Axis. Mol Cancer Res. 2018 Nov;16(11):1761-1772. PMCID: PMC6214723