Katharina Wittmann

email:  kfw25@cornell.edu

Research Focus

Interactions between cancer cells and their local environment play a pivotal role in tumor development. Obesity is associated with an increased breast cancer risk and on the stromal level, evident parallels between obese adipose and mammary tumor tissue exist.
My research aims to elucidate the role of obesity-mediated stromal changes in the formation of a pro-tumorigenic niche in mammary adipose tissue. I am particularly interested in how the physicochemical context of obesity and the associated endothelial cells affect the stem-ness and self-renewal capacities of breast cancer cells, features that are associated with tumor aggressiveness and therapy resistance. Bioengineered in vitro platforms are being applied to investigate breast cancer cell behavior as a function of ECM mechanics and to study the contribution of endothelial cells to the niche environment that supports mammary tumorigenesis in obesity.

Prior to joining the Fischbach lab, I received my PhD at the Julius-Maximilians-University of Wuerzburg, Germany. My work focused on tissue engineering approaches to generate volume-stable 3D adipose tissue constructs and the development of effective vascularization strategies for soft tissue regeneration.

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