Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium

Harris McFerrin, Ph.D.

Harris McFerrin, Ph.D.
Position Title: Assistant Professor
Office location: 404A NCF
Office phone: 504-520-5011
Email address: hmcferri@xula.edu

Biographical Narrative

Dr. Harris McFerrin received a Bachelor'Äôs of Science degree in Biology and Computer-Based Honors from the University of Alabama in 1995 and then a Master of Science degree in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Marchase at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Cell Biology Department in 1999. During this time, he was awarded the Buris Boschell Scholarship in Medicine and was a visiting scientist in the laboratory of Dr. Frans Nijkamp, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Upon completion of his Master'Äôs degree, Dr. McFerrin moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University. In 2006, he earned is Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology under the guidance of Dr. Cindy Morris. His Ph.D. thesis project focused on the molecular mechanisms of cyclin-dependent kinase 9 and NF-kB in angiogenesis. For his postdoctoral training, Dr. McFerrin examined the vascular trafficking of human multipotent mesenchymal stem cells in the laboratory of National Academy of Sciences and National Institute of Medicine member Dr. Darwin Prockop. Dr. McFerrin is currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at Xavier University of Louisiana and an adjunct Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University. He is actively involved with both the Louisiana Cancer Research and the Louisiana Gene Therapy Research Consortia and is a member of the North American Vascular Biology Organization, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, the Internation AIDS Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2010, he received a scientific excellence award and a travel award from the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium.

Research Overview:

My research over the last ten years has focused tangentially on a number of topics: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Herpes Virus-8 (HHV8/KSHV), diabetes, tumor angiogenesis and adult human stem cells. These topics are all linked by the vasculature. HHV8 co-infection with HIV increases the survival and growth of blood vessels to form lesions commonly known as Kaposi'Äôs sarcoma. Diabetes negatively affects the vasculature, causing decreased blood flow and is linked to atherosclerosis and a number of other problems. As a postdoctoral fellow we showed that the adult progenitor cells known as hMSC can help to form blood vessels in vivo. We and others have further demonstrated that hMSC directly interact with blood vessels, rolling in and adhering to the endothelium in a PSGL and alpha-4-integrin-dependent manner. Currently my laboratory is working on two projects. First, we are studying the role cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (Cdk9) in tumor-associated blood vessel growth and survival. In collaboration with Drs. Deborah Sullivan and Cindy Morris in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University, we are focusing on the role of Cdk9 in Kaposi'Äôs Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus viral G-protein coupled receptor-mediated blood vessel growth in the formation of Kaposi'Äôs sarcoma. Secondly, we are working with Dr. Earnest Chiu and Dr. Paul Friedlander in Tulane'Äôs Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology Departments, to determine whether adult stem cells from adipose tissue increase blood vessel growth and/or metastasis of breast cancer and squamous cell carcinoma.

Selected Publications:

McFerrin, H.E., Olson, S.D., Gutschow, M.V. and Prockop, D.J., Human Multipotent Marrow Stromal Cells expressing PSGL and alpha 4 Integrin Actively Interact with the Vasculature in a Chick Embryo Xenograft Model. In submission.

Bryan D Shelby, Heather L LaMarca, Harris E McFerrin, Anne B Nelson, Joseph A Lasky, Gang Sun, Leslie Myatt, Margaret K Offermann, Cindy A Morris and Deborah E Sullivan . Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus G-protein coupled receptor activation of cyclooxygenase-2 in vascular endothelial cells. Virology Journal

McFerrin, H.E., Nelson, A.B, Shelby, B.D., Morris, G., Morris, CA. Cdk9 is required for Bcl-2 Expression and Survival of Vascular Endothelial Cells. In preparation.

Tenenbaum, S.A., Morris, C.A., Alexander, S.S., McFerrin, H.E., Garry, R.F, and Leissinger, C.A. Evidence of HIV Exposure and Transient Seroreactivity in Archived HIV-Negative Severe Hemophiliac Sera. Virology Journal.

McFerrin, H.E., Sullivan, D.E., Nelson, A.B., Shelby, B.D., LaMarca, H.L., and Morris, C.A. Tat-Induced Angiogenesis. Watson R. R., ed A.I.D.S. and Heart Disease. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc. 2004.

Current Funding:

$150,000 LCRC Startup Funding
$10,000 Center for Undergraduate Research

Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium