Molecular Oncology & Biomarkers

The overall goals of this program are to understand the fundamental cellular and molecular processes that contribute to cancer development and progression. The research interests of the program can be divided into three broad themes: Cancer Genetics, Epigenetics, and Chaperone Biology. Collectively these themes address important topics of tumor cell and molecular biology:

  • The genetic basis of cancer development and progression through the roles of specific genes and pathways;
  • The genetic basis of metastasis underlying the roles of metastasis suppressor genes, metastasis promoting genes, and microRNAs involved in metastasis;
  • The role of transcription factors in promoting cancer progression;
  • Cancer genomics in primary human tumors and mouse models of cancer using gene expression and Next Gen sequencing;
  • Application of bioinformatics tools to study complex data sets;
  • The role of oncogenes and glycoconjugates in cancer cell progression;
  • Genome-wide analysis of epigenetic changes in cancer development as a tool to identify biomarkers for prediction of progression and prognosis;
  • Analysis of heat shock chaperones and other stress proteins in cancer development and as targets for cancer therapies;
  • The role of obesity and metabolic changes in the development of cancer.

osteosarcoma cell line - telophase

Getting down to where cancer lives

Normal cells have intricate molecular mechanisms that control essential phenotypes such as differentiation, cell division and movement. The molecular pathways that control these phenotypes are disrupted in cancer cells as a result of the expression of oncogenes and loss of regulatory tumor suppressor genes. These events, which are often highly specific to individual types of cancer, disrupt specific molecular pathways that result in uncontrolled cell growth and loss of normal responses to extracellular signaling cues that result in tumor development and progression.

In other words...

Through a more detailed understanding of the various ways in which cancer cells avoid normal regulatory controls it will eventually be possible to design individualized therapies targeting tumor-specific pathways based on their molecular signatures.