Paula J. Hurley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor of Urology

Research Information

The goal of the Hurley laboratory is to reduce the death and suffering caused by prostate cancer. Cancer localized to the prostate is often curable with treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy; however, once prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate to other organs or to the bone, it is an incurable disease. Dr. Hurley focuses on identifying both cancer cell-autonomous and non-cancer cell-autonomous genetic and molecular pathways that promote lethal prostate cancer and cause therapy resistance. She and her lab have identified SPARCL1 as a gene down-regulated in high-grade and metastatic prostate cancer that is a significant, independent prognostic marker of disease progression to metastases. SPARCL1 is a secreted extracellular matrix protein that restricts cellular adhesion, migration, and invasion. Her lab is currently examining how the loss of SPARCL1 contributes to cancer metastasis. This work also focuses on another secreted protein, Asporin. Asporin is expressed by cancer-associated stromal cells, and its increased expression is associated with worse outcomes. Findings from this research support that Asporin broadly impacts many cell types in the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Hurley and her lab are currently researching how Asporin mechanistically promotes metastatic development, and she is also interested in the utility of tumor-specific genetic alterations detected in the blood as predictors of therapy resistance.