Athena Starlard Davenport

Athena Starlard Davenport Athena Starlard Davenport
Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics, Genomics and Informatics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, United States.


Throughout the past 10 years, as a graduate and postdoctoral trainee, my research has primarily focused on understanding how genetic and epigenetic mechanisms combined with environmental exposures influence gene expression, function, phenotypic outcomes, and disease susceptibility, particularly breast cancer. In 2007, I received my PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, AR. My dissertation research entitled -Characterization of UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase (UGTs) in normal and malignant human breast tissues has been a major driving force of my current research which is to delineate how individual differences in estrogen metabolism influences breast cancer development. After completing my PhD in 2007, I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Food and Drug Administration-s National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, AR. In October 2008 I was invited to participate in the first FDA Commissioner?s Fellowship program where I gained an in-depth understanding behind the FDA regulatory review process and was introduced to the field of epigenetics by my preceptor and expert in the field, Dr. Igor Pogribny. Our research has led to better understanding of mechanisms of epigenetic silencing in mammary carcinogenesis and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. In January 2016, I accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in the Department of Genetics, Genomics and Informatics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN. In my new role, I am establishing an exciting research program centered on understanding the genetic and epigenetic basis of breast cancer health disparities in women of primarily African ancestry. The overall goal of my research program is to develop biomarkers for early breast cancer detection and to improve breast cancer prevention and intervention strategies for women, particularly women of African ancestry.

Research Interest

Genetics, Epigenetics, Gene expression, Biochemistry, Molecular biology, Human breast tissues, Informatics.

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