Jane Azizkhan-Clifford, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Drexel University College of Medicine, a position she has held since September, 2000. She is also Director of the MD/PhD Program and Associate Dean for Medical Student Education. Dr. Clifford earned her PhD from the University of Maryland (1978) and performed her dissertation research at the National Cancer Institute. She completed two postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University with Dr. Judah Folkman and Michael Klagsbrun and at the University of Virginia under Joyce Hamlin. She has been engaged in basic cancer research throughout her academic career at Johns Hopkins University (1983-1985), University of North Carolina (1985-1993), Roswell Park Cancer Institute (1993-2000), and at Drexel.
Dr. Clifford’s research has focused on cancer biology and understanding control of cellular proliferation at a molecular level. She has extensively studied two transcription factors, Sp1 and E2F, which regulate a large number of genes required for DNA replication, as well as genes involved in cell cycle control, DNA damage response, oncogenes, and tumor suppressor genes. Dr. Clifford’s laboratory has focused on regulatory post-translational modifications of these factors in response to a number of signals, including growth stimulation and DNA damage to modulate these responses. Current studies are directed at understanding the mechanism through which these factors, which are phosphorylated by kinases activated in response to DNA damage and localize to sites of DNA double strand breaks, affect the cellular response to damage. Her lab has also studied the effects of infection by DNA viruses on these transcription factors and their targets, as well as activation of cell cycle checkpoints, analogous to what occurs in the DNA damage response. Development of therapeutic agents to specifically target these transcription factors and the kinases that regulate their activity is being explored for use as antiviral and anticancer agents. Another major effort in the laboratory has been directed at understanding the effects of DNA damage through radiation, non-thermal plasma, and/or chemotherapeutic drugs on activation of oncogenic signaling and invasion.
A recipient of the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Dr. Clifford has also been honored with the Faculty Research Award from the American Cancer Society. She was in the 2001-2002 ELAM class. She is a reviewer for many journals and serves on numerous editorial boards and review committees and is a former member of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Experimental Therapeutics Study section. Her research has been supported by the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes, as well as by NIH and the Department of Defense.
Dr. Clifford is married and has 3 grown children—a musician, an industrial designer, and a medical student. She grew up in a military family moving around the world, but Philadelphia is now home and the place in which she has lived the longest. She serves on the Committee for the Sciences and the Arts at the Franklin Institute. Outside interests include running, hiking, antiquing, and remodeling houses.