Sphingolipids – named after the myth of the enigmatic Sphinx - are a fundamental class of lipids that, for many years, were considered to be inert structural components of cell membranes. The discovery that sphingolipids had signaling functions in the 1980s led to a surge in interest in these important molecules. Since then, they have been shown to play key roles in many cellular processes and the deregulation of sphingolipid metabolism has been linked with many human diseases, including many cancers.
The Lipid Cancer laboratory at Stony Brook Cancer Center comprises a number of research groups with a shared focus on dissecting sphingolipid metabolism and understanding sphingolipids signaling functions. In particular, the goals of our research are to obtain a deeper understanding of the enzymes that regulate cellular sphingolipid levels, to recognize how these enzymes can be misregulated in cancer, and to define how alterations in sphingolipid metabolism are involved in cancer development, progression, and the response to cancer therapies. Our hope is that by unlocking the mysteries of sphingolipids, we will be able to develop lipid enzymes as new drug targets for treatment of cancer.