Department of Cell and Cancer Biology

Ivana de la Serna, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


B.S. 1984 Nutritional Biochemistry    Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Ph.D. 1998 Plant Pathology University of California, Davis, Davis, CA



Epigenetic regulators are emerging as promising targets for treatment of cancer and other human disorders. One form of epigenetic regulation is that which occurs by modulation of chromatin structure. Chromatin structure plays a critical role in the regulation of gene expression by imposing topological constraints and by creating a barrier for transcriptional regulators. SWI/SNF enzymes are multiprotein complexes that alter chromatin structure in an ATP dependent manner and are involved in the regulation of transcription, DNA replication, recombination, and repair. We focus our research on SWI/SNF function in melanocytes and melanoma.

Melanoma is an aggressive skin cancer that arises from the transformation of melanocytes. These are cells, located in the basal layer of the epidermis and in hair follicles, which synthesize melanin, giving us our characteristic skin and hair color. We investigate the role of SWI/SNF and other epigenetic regulators in melanocyte stem cells function during embryonic and postnatal development, during aging, in the melanocytic response to ultraviolet radiation, and in melanoma. Our studies have implications for stem cell biology, and for developing novel epigenetic approaches for treating pigmentation disorders, skin cancer prevention, and treatment.


Ongoing Research Support

Completed Research Support

2021 PASPCR - Colgate Palmolive Under-Represented Minority Summer Fellowship
de la Serna, Ivana (PI)

Established Investigator Award, Melanoma Research Foundation
de la Serna, Ivana (PI)
Inhibiting BRD9 in Melanoma
Role: PI

R01 AR059379-05, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
de la Serna, Ivana (PI)
Regulation of Melanocyte Differentiation by SWI/SNF Chromatin Remodeling Enzymes
Role: PI

K22 ES012981-03, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
de la Serna, Ivana (PI)
Chromatin Remodeling in UVR Induced Melanogenesis
Role: PI

Pilot grant, Ohio Cancer Research Associates
de la Serna, Ivana (PI)
De-regulation of Chromatin Remodeling by BRAF (V600E) in Melanoma
Role: PI

Pilot grant, American Cancer Society-Ohio
de la Serna, Ivana (PI)
SWI/SNF Enzymes in BRAF (V600E) Induced Changes in Melanocyte Gene Expression
Role: PI

Scientist Development Grant, American Heart Association
de la Serna, Ivana (PI)
Chromatin Remodeling in Microphthalmia Mediated Differentiation
Role: PI


STUDENT OPENINGS: Not currently accepting students.

Last Updated: 2/24/23