Dr. Duncan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Bioengineering of the Swanson School of Engineering. He is a member of the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Genome Stability Program. He is also a member of the Cellular & Molecular Pathology and Integrated Systems Biology graduate training programs.
Dr. Duncan graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BS in Biology in 1996. He attended graduate school at Duke University, earning a PhD in 2005. Dr. Duncan’s graduate work focused on hematopoietic stem cell biology. From 2005 to 2011, Dr. Duncan was a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon Health and Science University, where he investigated liver regeneration. Dr. Duncan was recruited to the University of Pittsburgh in 2012 by the Department of Pathology and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Dr. Duncan’s comprehensive, NIH-funded program seeks to understand how hepatocyte chromosome variations influence liver function and disease, particularly the role of diploid and polyploid cells. Specific projects involve multiple areas. First, the lab seeks to identify the molecular and cellular players that regulate aneuploidy/polyploidy. The cell cycle in most normal mammalian cells is tightly regulated, prohibiting the expansion of polyploid and/or aneuploid cells. Experiments examine the extent of hepatocyte-specific cell cycle regulation. Additionally, multiple types of cells coordinate the overall degree of polyploidy/aneuploidy in the liver. Studies are underway to determine how diverse cell types (including stem and progenitor cells) contribute to genetic diversity. Second, the lab investigates the function of aneuploid hepatocytes. Despite the prevalence of hepatic aneuploidy, spontaneous liver cancer is rare, suggesting that aneuploidy is not necessarily a predisposition for liver cancer. Recent data indicate that hepatic aneuploidy is beneficial, promoting adaptation to liver injury. Development of new mouse models to explore “beneficial” and “pathological” adaptation mediated by aneuploid hepatocytes is in progress. Finally, how polyploid and aneuploid hepatocytes affect human liver disease is unknown. Studies seek to understand how these cells contribute to pathogenesis and regeneration in liver diseases, including hepatocellular carcinoma and alcohol liver disease.
Dr. Duncan is on the Editorial Board of Hepatology, American Journal of Pathology, and Organogenesis and is an ad hoc reviewer for multiple journals, including Nature, Developmental Cell, and Journal of Hepatology.
View a list of Dr. Duncan’s publications here.