Mahsa Dabagh, a biomedical engineer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has been awarded a Faculty Early Career Development award by the National Science Foundation to build a virtual model of a human tumor that can reveal biomarkers of cancer formation and stage, and also predict the likelihood of it spreading.

Malignant tumors develop in a cellular soup that can contribute to the disease’s progression, said Dabagh, an assistant professor in UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science. She specializes in computational modeling of how cells and organelles inside of cells sense and respond to changes in their surroundings.

Dabagh will use the five-year, $542,000 grant (often called the CAREER award) to construct a model of a prevalent type of pancreatic tumor, known as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. She will look for changes that occur in tissue on a molecular level.

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