Yasmath (Yashi) Ahmed, MD, PhD, a professor of molecular and systems biology, has been appointed to the Oscar M. Cohn 1934 Professorship for a five-year term that began in December 2023.
The professorship was established with gifts from Oscar M. Cohn, a 1934 graduate of Dartmouth College and a business executive in Bloomington, IL.
“I am honored by being appointed the Oscar M. Cohn Professor,” Ahmed says. “I have been extremely fortunate to work with many gifted graduate students, undergraduate students, technicians, and research scientists in our lab, along with outstanding faculty and staff in Dartmouth’s biomedical science community.
“We will use support from the Cohn Professorship to characterize signaling components that go awry in colorectal cancer, and among these, to identify promising therapeutic targets.”
Ahmed’s work focuses on a cell-to-cell communication pathway (termed Wnt signal transduction) that directs embryonic development, tissue maintenance, and regeneration following injury. Improper regulation of this pathway results in numerous birth defects and cancers. In particular, uncontrolled activation of Wnt signaling triggers the onset of nearly all colorectal cancers. Despite crucial roles in animal development and human diseases, many of the mechanisms that regulate the level of Wnt signaling remain poorly understood.
Working at the interface between developmental biology and cancer biology to uncover these mechanisms, the long-term goals of the Ahmed Lab are to better understand the control of Wnt signaling and to discover new treatment strategies for Wnt-driven cancers. Their work capitalizes on powerful genetic approaches in the fruit fly Drosophila and subsequent translation of these discoveries to human cancer models.
“Dr. Ahmed is a leader in deciphering the fundamental mechanisms contributing to colorectal cancer,” says Duane Compton, PhD, dean of the Geisel School of Medicine. “I'm pleased that this professorship will recognize her many contributions to understanding Wnt signaling in cancer over many years.”