SALT LAKE CITY — A cell biologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute has been selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar and awarded $1 million to cover her research for the next five years.

Jody Rosenblatt's research focuses on extrusion, a biological process she discovered several years ago that forces certain cells to leave the epithelium, the tissue layer that forms the skin and lining of the gastrointestinal tract. The process is a necessary step in maintaining healthy organs, but when it goes awry, may be the root cause of many types of cancer.

Studies will continue into how the mechanisms that regulate extrusion become damaged and instead cause diseases, including asthma and metastatic cancers.

The Howard Hughes program provides scientists with flexible resources to continue their research ideas.