Cancer Biology

Photo: Hematoxylin and eosin-stained section of a triple negative breast tumor (Caroline Alexander)

The Cancer Biology focus group encompasses a wide spectrum of research interests, from translational goals for improving treatment of human tumors, to basic research describing the molecular interactions of pathways that are key to cell regulation.   Several group members work on the molecular regulation of known tumor driver pathways, such as the hormonal drivers of breast and prostate cancer (Alarid, Schuler, Xu), epidermal growth factor signaling components for several carcinomas (Wheeler) or NFkb for multiple myeloma (Miyamoto).   Others evaluate the viral origins of cervical and hematopoietic tumors (Lambert, Sugden).  Some focus on pathways that collaborate to promote tumor development, such as deficiencies of DNA repair (Tibbetts), or problems with mitosis and aneuploidy (Ahmad, Weaver, Skop); others aim to find out which genes are activated during tumor progression, using unbiased genetic screens (Collier, Zhang).  An emerging sub-focus is the study and imaging of the unique metabolism of cancer cells and tumors (Ahmad, Alexander, Cryns, Pagliarini, Skala, Yen).   With the realization that tumor development and growth can be suppressed or promoted by the tumor microenvironment, several group leaders are focused on immune, metabolic or physiologic interactions of tumor cells (Arendt, Asimakopoulos, Miyamoto).  The approaches vary from nanometer scale analysis of molecular regulation of phosphatases (Xing) to the assembly of rodent models of human breast, head and neck and cervical tumors (Alexander, Arendt, Asimokopolous, Lambert, Zhang).   Our investigators are interested in many specific tumor types, from head and neck tumors (Kimple, Lambert, Wheeler) to breast tumors (Alarid, Alexander, Arendt, Cryns, Schuler, Wheeler, Xu), to cervical (Lambert) and prostate cancer (Marker), melanoma (Ahmad, Setaluri) and tumors of the hematopoietic lineage (Asimakopoulos, Bresnick, Miyamoto, Rui, Zhang).  For students interested in translational aspects, many groups are developing therapeutic strategies for specific tumor types, suppressing graft-versus-host disease and developing novel imaging modalities for screening patient responses (Capitini, Fowler, Wheeler).