Meet L. Michael Carastro Jr.
Associate Professor, Biochemistry
Education: 1989 Hillsborough Community College, A.A.
1994 University of Tampa, B.S.
2001 University of Miami - School of Medicine, Ph.D.
2002 Salk Institute for Biological Studies, postdoctoral fellowship
2003 Moffitt Cancer Research Institute, postdoctoral fellowship
2004 Penn State University-College of Medicine, postdoctoral scholar
Courses Taught: Introduction to Research
Molecular Basis of Cancer
Chemistry and Society
Career Specialties: Carastro's primary area of academic expertise is in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. His career specialties are in molecular oncology research, as well as in biochemistry and molecular biology education.
Professional and Community Activities: Carastro earned his doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology, and had postdoctoral training in human gene expression and molecular oncology. Before coming to The University of Tampa in 2006, he was an assistant professor at the Pennsylvania State University-College of Medicine. In addition to his current faculty position at UT, he has held an appointment as affiliate member at the Moffitt Cancer Center since 2007.
Carastro's earliest research work was in DNA replication and gene expression (Carastro et al 2002; Lu et al 2002). As a postdoctoral fellow, he investigated the molecular mechanisms regulating expression of tumor suppression genes, including p53 (Strudwick et al 2003) and prohibitin (Joshi et al 2007). After joining the UT, he received funding from the National Cancer Institute for his research on the vitamin D receptor (Roff et al 2010). More recently, he published research findings describing a protective role, in prostate cancer, for a mutation in the p73 tumor suppresser gene and providing evidence for a molecular rationale explaining this phenomenon (Carastro et al 2014). The current focus in Carastro's research group is on prostate cancer and tumor suppressor genes. Emanating from this current focus, there are ongoing projects in Carastro's research laboratory: (1) defining the molecular mechanism(s) of underpinning the chemopreventative effect of a standardized green tea extract (Polyphenon E) against prostate cancer, (2) elucidating the CpG methylation patterns in the p73 gene promoter and investigating the epigenetic role of CpG methylation in regulating expression of p73 N-terminal isoforms, TAp73 and deltaNp73, and (3) developing novel, sensitive detection methods utilizing liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) methodologies to differentially detect and quantitate the TAp73 and deltaNp73 protein isoforms.
Carastro has published peer-reviewed research articles in several biomedical journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Cancer Research, Nucleic Acids Research and Prostate Cancer. He also serves as a peer reviewer for some biomedical journals, including Carcinogenesis, Human Genetics and Environmental Toxicology.
Carastro has memberships in, and is actively engaged in, professional societies for his field of scientific expertise. He has been a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) since 1997, and the American Association for Cancer Research since 2003. In 2015, he was appointed as an ASBMB Educational Fellow.
Honors and Awards: 2016 - Outstanding Undergraduate Student Research Supervision Award, College of Natural and Health Sciences, The University of Tampa (UT)
2015 - Grant of the Year, UT
2015 - ASBMB Educational Fellow
2003 - AACR Edward A. Smuckler Memorial Pathobiology of Cancer Workshop
1999 - Alpha Epsilon Lambda, Beta Chapter, University of Miami (National Graduate and Professional Student Leadership Honor Society)
1992 - Life Science Award, UT