Our laboratory is focused on understanding the signaling mechanisms that control cell proliferation. We have had a long standing interest in the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway, which is one of several mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathways activated by hormones, cytokines and growth factors. Importantly, ERK proteins play a major role in most physiological functions including; cell growth and death, differentiation, and tissue development. Over-activation of the ERK pathway is thought to occur in many types of cancers. Our research projects are aimed at determining the mechanisms of ERK regulation and the role of the ERK signaling pathway during the mammalian cell cycle. In particular, current studies are aimed at determining the role of the ERK pathway during mitotic progression and how ERK activation may be involved in genomic instability associated with cancer cells. In addition, drug discovery studies underway are using computer aided drug design to identify low molecular weight inhibitors of ERK proteins that selectively disrupt interactions with specific substrates involved in cancer cell proliferation.