Dr. Bret A. Hassel, Associate Professor in the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, has directed the Nathan Schnaper Summer Intern Program in Cancer Research since 2001. Dr. Hassel received his B.S. from the University of Miami and his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 1989. Following postdoctoral fellowships at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Dr. Hassel joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1995. Dr. Hassel leads an active research program that has been continuously funded through grants from the NIH, ACS, and VA for the past 15 years.
Research in Dr. Hassel’s laboratory focuses on the endoribonuclease RNase-L which functions in the innate immune response to microbial pathogens and in the control of cell proliferation and oncogenesis. Dr. Hassel and co-workers were the first to clone RNase-L nearly 20 years ago. Subsequent work from his lab has contributed significantly to the current understanding of RNase-L activities in host defense and cancer and has been published in top tier biomedical journals. The long term goal of his work is to develop RNase-L-targeted agents for diagnostic and therapeutic applications in cancer and inflammatory diseases.
In addition to laboratory-based training and mentoring, Dr. Hassel teaches in nine graduate and medical school courses. He has served on the thesis committees of over 60 students and has directly mentored 31 intern, graduate student and postdoctoral trainees. Dr. Hassel also serves in training roles through membership on admissions, curriculum and Ph.D. qualifying exam committees. Dr. Hassel is a co-PI on the Signaling Pathways in Innate Immunity T32 training grant and is a mentor of predoctoral and postdoctoral T32 awardees in Cancer Biology and Gastrointestinal Biology respectively. In conjunction with the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education Achievement Counts program and the After School Science Fair program at the Maryland Science Center, Dr. Hassel gives presentations at local high schools on Cancer and Career Paths in the Biomedical Sciences.