Cancer Biology

Photo: Blue nuclei with red stain = mouse mammary glands stained with a blue nuclear stain and a red stain specific for the alpha 6 integrin, a cell surface molecule important for mediating the interaction of cell with extracellular matrix (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 hormone receptors for breast and prostate cancer (Alarid, Mertz, Schuler, Xu) and epidermal growth factor signaling components (Bertics, Harari, Wheeler).   Some groups evaluate the viral origins of cervical and hematopoietic tumors (Lambert, Sugden).  Other groups work on pathways that collaborate during tumor development, such as NFKb (Miyamoto) or deficiencies of DNA repair (Tibbetts), or problems with mitosis (Ahmad, Weaver).  Some aim to find out which genes are activated during tumor progression, using unbiased screens (Collier, Zhang) or optical mapping of genetic changes in tumors (Schwartz).  Dr. Gould looks for genetic origins that determine susceptibility to tumor development.  Dr. Kreeger aims to test how changes of protein function are integrated at the level of molecular bioengineering , and others evaluate how metabolism is linked to tumor susceptibility (Pagliarini, Yen).  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, Asimokopolous, Gould, Harari, Lambert, Zhang).   Some groups work on cancer stem cells, and evaluate whether tumors arise in somatic stem cells in breast, hematopoietic and neural lineages (Alexander, Kuo, Setaluri, Zhang).  Our investigators are interested in many specific tumor types, from prostate (Marker), to head and neck tumors (Harari, Lambert) to breast tumors (Alarid, Alexander, Gould, Schuler, Wheeler, Xu), to cervical cancer (Lambert), to hematopoietic lineages (Miyamoto, Zhang).  For students interested in translational aspects, many groups are developing therapeutic strategies for specific tumor types, and developing novel imaging modalities for screening patient responses (Cai, Campagnola).