Frank McCormick, Ph.D., F.R.S., is the David A. Wood Distinguished Professor of Tumor Biology and Cancer Research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the leader of the RAS Initiative at the National Cancer Institute. His current research focuses on the understanding of RAS GTPases and how they can be therapeutically targeted in RAS-driven cancers, which are some of the most commonly occurring and most difficult to treat.
His lab is also interested in the mechanisms of rare genetic diseases caused by mutations in RAS pathway components that cause hyperactive RAS signaling. These developmental syndromes, collectively referred to as ‘RASopathies,’ have many features in common, including learning difficulties and behavioral problems. One such syndrome, neurofibromatosis, is caused by a loss-of-function mutation in NF1, a negative regulator of RAS activity. SYNGAP1, which is mutated in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability, is also a member of the RAS GAP (GTPase activating protein) family that NF1 belongs to. McCormick brings his expertise in RAS and its regulators to the field to understand how dysregulation of RAS activity at the biochemical level contributes to learning and memory problems in individuals with ASD.