Stella Tommasi, PhD

Associate Professor of Research Population and Public Health Sciences

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I am an Associate Professor of Research in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences (PPHS) and a Full Member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCCC), Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program (GER). Research in my laboratory focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of cancer and other chronic diseases. Specifically, we aim to elucidate how the genome and epigenome are affected by lifestyle (e.g., smoking, vaping, diet) and environmental exposures (e.g., air pollutants, chemical contaminants). Using a combination of novel seq-based omics technologies, classic molecular biology assays, and bioinformatics tools, my group investigates the role played by tobacco toxicants/carcinogens (and environmental pollutants) in the pathogenesis of cancer and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a primary form of liver disease and a growing global epidemic. Characterizing the interaction of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental determinants can provide insights into the complexity and heterogeneity of cancer and NAFLD. Improving our mechanistic understanding of their etiology will be instrumental in developing effective strategies for the prevention, early detection, treatment and monitoring of these diseases.


  • Vaping Dose, Device Type, and E-Liquid Flavor are Determinants of DNA Damage in Electronic Cigarette Users Nicotine Tob Res. 2023 05 22; 25(6):1145-1154. . View in PubMed
  • DNA Hydroxymethylation in Smoking-Associated Cancers Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Feb 28; 23(5). . View in PubMed
  • Secondhand smoke affects reproductive functions by altering the mouse testis transcriptome, and leads to select intron retention in Pde1a Environ Int. 2022 03; 161:107086. . View in PubMed
  • The consequential impact of JUUL on youth vaping and the landscape of tobacco products: The state of play in the COVID-19 era Prev Med Rep. 2021 Jun; 22:101374. . View in PubMed
  • Hydroxychloroquine induces oxidative DNA damage and mutation in mammalian cells DNA Repair (Amst). 2021 10; 106:103180. . View in PubMed
  • Relationships among smoking, oxidative stress, inflammation, macromolecular damage, and cancer Mutat Res Rev Mutat Res. 2021 Jan-Jun; 787:108365. . View in PubMed
  • A novel role for vaping in mitochondrial gene dysregulation and inflammation fundamental to disease development Sci Rep. 2021 11 23; 11(1):22773. . View in PubMed
  • Vaping epidemic: challenges and opportunities Cancer Causes Control. 2020 Jul; 31(7):663-667. . View in PubMed
  • Secondhand Smoke Induces Liver Steatosis through Deregulation of Genes Involved in Hepatic Lipid Metabolism Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb 14; 21(4). . View in PubMed
  • Hypomethylation of LINE-1 repeat elements and global loss of DNA hydroxymethylation in vapers and smokers Epigenetics. 2020 08; 15(8):816-829. . View in PubMed
  • Spontaneous and photosensitization-induced mutations in primary mouse cells transitioning through senescence and immortalization J Biol Chem. 2020 07 17; 295(29):9974-9985. . View in PubMed
  • Vaping: A growing global health concern EClinicalMedicine. 2019 Dec; 17:100208. . View in PubMed
  • Deregulation of Biologically Significant Genes and Associated Molecular Pathways in the Oral Epithelium of Electronic Cigarette Users Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Feb 10; 20(3). . View in PubMed
  • DNA Hydroxymethylation at the Interface of the Environment and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 08 05; 16(15). . View in PubMed
  • Mutation Analysis in Cultured Cells of Transgenic Rodents Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jan 16; 19(1). . View in PubMed
  • The Lambda Select cII Mutation Detection System J Vis Exp. 2018 04 26; (134). . View in PubMed
  • A Versatile Assay for Detection of Aberrant DNA Methylation in Bladder Cancer Methods Mol Biol. 2018; 1655:29-41. . View in PubMed
  • An opportune and unique research to evaluate the public health impact of electronic cigarettes Cancer Causes Control. 2017 Oct; 28(10):1167-1171. . View in PubMed
  • Limited mutagenicity of electronic cigarettes in mouse or human cells in vitro Lung Cancer. 2017 10; 112:41-46. . View in PubMed
  • Expression of epigenetic modifiers is not significantly altered by exposure to secondhand smoke Lung Cancer. 2015 Dec; 90(3):598-603. . View in PubMed
  • Exposure of mice to secondhand smoke elicits both transient and long-lasting transcriptional changes in cancer-related functional networks Int J Cancer. 2015 May 15; 136(10):2253-63. . View in PubMed
  • The lingering question of menthol in cigarettes Cancer Causes Control. 2015 Feb; 26(2):165-169. . View in PubMed
  • RASSF6 exhibits promoter hypermethylation in metastatic melanoma and inhibits invasion in melanoma cells Epigenetics. 2014 Nov; 9(11):1496-503. . View in PubMed
  • Epigenetics of human melanoma: promises and challenges J Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Oct; 6(5):356-67. . View in PubMed
  • Electronic cigarettes: the road ahead Prev Med. 2014 Sep; 66:65-7. . View in PubMed
  • Epigenetic targeting of the Nanog pathway and signaling networks during chemical carcinogenesis Carcinogenesis. 2014 Aug; 35(8):1726-36. . View in PubMed
  • Alterations of DNA methylome in human bladder cancer Epigenetics. 2013 Oct; 8(10):1013-22. . View in PubMed
  • Genotoxicity of tobacco smoke-derived aromatic amines and bladder cancer: current state of knowledge and future research directions FASEB J. 2013 Jun; 27(6):2090-100. . View in PubMed
  • Mammalian cells acquire epigenetic hallmarks of human cancer during immortalization Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Jan 07; 41(1):182-95. . View in PubMed
  • Whole DNA methylome profiling in mice exposed to secondhand smoke Epigenetics. 2012 Nov; 7(11):1302-14. . View in PubMed
  • A high-throughput next-generation sequencing-based method for detecting the mutational fingerprint of carcinogens Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Aug; 40(15):e116. . View in PubMed
  • New experimental data linking secondhand smoke exposure to lung cancer in nonsmokers FASEB J. 2012 May; 26(5):1845-54. . View in PubMed
  • Organ specificity of the bladder carcinogen 4-aminobiphenyl in inducing DNA damage and mutation in mice Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Feb; 5(2):299-308. . View in PubMed
  • Investigating the epigenetic effects of a prototype smoke-derived carcinogen in human cells PLoS One. 2010 May 12; 5(5):e10594. . View in PubMed
  • RASSF proteins Curr Biol. 2010 Apr 27; 20(8):R344-5. . View in PubMed
  • Identification of 5 novel genes methylated in breast and other epithelial cancers Mol Cancer. 2010 Mar 05; 9:51. . View in PubMed
  • Tumor suppressor Ras-association domain family 1 isoform A is a novel regulator of cardiac hypertrophy Circulation. 2009 Aug 18; 120(7):607-16. . View in PubMed
  • Methylation of homeobox genes is a frequent and early epigenetic event in breast cancer Breast Cancer Res. 2009; 11(1):R14. . View in PubMed
  • RASSF1A is part of a complex similar to the Drosophila Hippo/Salvador/Lats tumor-suppressor network Curr Biol. 2007 Apr 17; 17(8):700-5. . View in PubMed
  • Involvement of the RASSF1A tumor suppressor gene in controlling cell migration Cancer Res. 2005 Sep 01; 65(17):7653-9. . View in PubMed
  • Short hairpin RNA-directed cytosine (CpG) methylation of the RASSF1A gene promoter in HeLa cells Mol Ther. 2005 Jul; 12(1):179-83. . View in PubMed
  • The tumor suppressor RASSF1A and MAP-1 link death receptor signaling to Bax conformational change and cell death Mol Cell. 2005 Jun 10; 18(6):637-50. . View in PubMed
  • Tumor susceptibility of Rassf1a knockout mice Cancer Res. 2005 Jan 01; 65(1):92-8. . View in PubMed
  • Control of microtubule stability by the RASSF1A tumor suppressor Oncogene. 2003 Nov 06; 22(50):8125-36. . View in PubMed
  • Epigenetic inactivation of RAS association domain family protein 1 (RASSF1A) in malignant cutaneous melanoma Cancer Res. 2003 Apr 01; 63(7):1639-43. . View in PubMed
  • Methylation of the RASSF1A gene in human cancers Biol Chem. 2002 Jun; 383(6):907-14. . View in PubMed