Joe Sucic, Ph.D.
Research Interests: The structure, function, and trafficking of secretory system endoproteases as well as the role that these enzymes play in metastasis; that latter interest has expanded a bit to include studying the regulation of genes encoding these enzymes during metastasis.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Working with students! It is tremendously rewarding to help students discover science and the pleasure of scientific research. I think that working with students also helps keep me young at heart!
Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
Two people had profound influences on my career. One was my undergraduate Cell Biology instructor (Dr. Joyce Cuff). She really got me interested in cell and molecular biology; she also gave me my first research experience, which really influenced my decision to attend graduate school. The other was my major professor in graduate school (Dr. Charles Rutherford). He taught me how to be a professional scientist, and I use skills and experiences that I got from him quite literally on a daily basis.
I have been nominated for the UM-Flint Distinguished Professor Award on a number of occasions, including the past three years in a row, and have won the award once (in 2004). Last year I was the UM-Flint nominee for the Michigan Distinguished Professor, which is awarded to one individual from all of the 15 public universities in Michigan.
My non-science interests include model railroading, sports (I enjoy playing basketball and wallyball and I enjoy watching baseball, football, and basketball), and music (I am starting to play drums again after a long hiatus).
The main project in my lab right now is examining the regulation of genes whose products drive metastasis, including genes that encode the aforementioned secretory system endoproteases. My students and I are trying to understand why these genes get switched on (or off in some cases) as metastasis is initiated. I have a side project in molecular neuroscience that I am doing collaboratively with a colleague in Boston. We are examining changes in gene expression that occur during brain remodeling, which occurs when new neural connections are made (for example, when one sense gains acuity in response to the loss of another sense).