Cell surface proteins regulate interaction between cells and the material surrounding them called the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM adheres cells together and buffers them from their environment. Interactions between these proteins and the ECM generate signals that regulate cell movement and survival. A key step in the evolution of cancer is the ability of cancer cells to evade attaching to the extracellular matrix, which allows them to detach from the primary tumour site and metastasize (move to other parts of the body). Dr. Nolan Filipenko is studying integrin linked kinase (ILK), a protein that is directly involved in cell survival and movement. The way ILK regulates cell survival is well understood, but less is known about how ILK regulates cell movement. Dr. Filipenko is investigating how ILK controls cell migration and invasion, research that could ultimately lead to new therapies for treating metastatic disease.