Scientist: Maria J Contreras-Zarate, Ph.D.
Dr. Contreras-Zarate has been a Research Instructor at the University of Colorado since August 2021 in the field of brain metastases under the mentorship of Dr. Diana Cittelly. Dr. Contreras-Zárate completed her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the Universidad Nacional Colombia. In 2016, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Cittelly at the University of Colorado as a postdoctoral fellow, where she learned the technical skills required to perform critical in vitro and in vivo experiments in the brain metastases field. Dr. Contreras-Zarate led the efforts to decipher how estrogen modulates BDNF/TrkB signaling to promote metastatic brain colonization in younger women with triple-negative breast cancers; (Contreras-Zarate, MJ et al., Oncogene, 2019). Her research currently focuses on understanding the interaction between cancer cells and the brain microenvironment. She also studies estrogen depletion therapies as a preventive and therapeutic setting to decrease the progression of brain colonization of triple-negative breast cancer—and she is interested in defining the mechanism underlying radiation treatment side effects and the potential role of antiepileptic drugs in the metastasis progression in breast cancer patients with epileptic seizures.