Cancer Biology Research

In Cancer Biology, we focus on investigating signaling pathways involved in cancer, oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes, cell cycle regulation tumor invasion and metastasis, regulation of protein stability, tumor microenvironment including inflammation, angiogenesis, and lymphangiogenesis, cancer immunology, as well as novel cancer therapeutics and resistance mechanisms. Primary and joint investigations aim to achieve the following goals:

  • A molecular understanding of the cellular processes and signaling pathways involved in the initiation and progression of human cancers
  • Insights into molecular targets for innovative therapeutics

Our research themes address a wide variety of topics:

  • Receptor and cytoplasmic regulatory pathways, including tyrosine kinase receptors, G proteins, Wnt ligands, cytokines, interleukin, interferon, and TGF beta
  • Oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes with implications for cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, growth arrest, and senescence
  • Cell adhesion, including catenins and cadherins and altered signaling in metastasis
  • Regulation of protein stability, including studies on the role of bTRCP and its components in the regulation of b-catenin, IkB stability, and Hlf1, and the regulation and functional significance of protein sumoylation
  • Structural and macromolecular interactions in signaling pathways using X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance technology

Research Laboratories

Much of the cutting edge research we do at the Department of Oncological Sciences takes place in the laboratory. What follows is a list of the many labs, which explore the way cancer works in the body and determine how we can use that knowledge to improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the disease.

The Bernstein Laboratory studies histone variant proteins and their relation to cancer. The lab’s long-term goal is to understand the chromatin changes that take place at the molecular level during the transformation process of ‘normal cells’ to ‘cancer cells’ and during the reprogramming of somatic cells to stem cells. 

Learn about the Bernstein Laboratory

The Chipuk Laboratory deciphers the interplay between mitochondria and cell death signaling.

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The goal of the Chen Laboratory is to combine activation of innate and adaptive immunity.

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The Dominguez-Sola Laboratory is interested in understanding how cancer initiation shapes the biological features and natural history of this disease.

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The Fisher Laboratory studies the regulation of cell division and gene expression by a network of cyclin-dependent kinases.

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The Jandorf Laboratory works to reduce cancer-related health disparities across genders and disease-sites, while bringing cancer education and screening programs to medically underserved communities.

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The Laboratory of Signaling and Metastasis aims to understand the biology of disseminated tumor cells, focusing on mechanisms of survival, dormancy, and growth of loco-regional or secondary organ disseminated tumor cells.

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The Lujambio Laboratory studies mechanisms of liver cancer initiation and liver cancer maintenance, specifically how genetic alterations in cancer cells contribute to tumorigenesis, alter treatment response, and create vulnerabilities that may be targeted therapeutically.

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The Merad Laboratory studies the mechanisms that regulate the development and function of dendritic cells and macrophages, and their contribution to the induction of immune responses against pathogens and tumor cells in vivo.

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The Papapetrou Laboratory uses human pluripotent stem cells to understand the mechanisms of malignant and non-malignant genetic blood diseases and to develop new therapies.

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The Parsons Laboratory seeks to identify the underpinnings of cancer and to use this information to improve cancer prevention and treatment. The lab employs a multidisciplinary approach to study cancer by combining molecular pathology and genetic studies of human tumor biopsies, human and mouse tumor models, metabolism, epigenetics, and biochemistry of signaling.

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The Poulikakos Laboratory investigates kinase regulation and oncogenic signaling using small molecule inhibitors. We exploit the selectivity of these compounds to interrogate the complexity of growth factor signaling networks that promote transformation, tumor maintenance and drug resistance.

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The Sachidanandam Laboratory explores the genetics of mitochondria and the stability of its genome to provide a better understanding of the role of mitochondria in neurological disorders as well as tumor-resistance to therapeutic agents; the diversity of the TCR-repertoire and its plasticity and elasticity, characterizing this diversity and understanding its interactions with the genome in various disorders such as auto-immunity; and the defense of the germline against attacks from transposons to working toward understanding the role of the piRNA pathway in this defense.

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The Yu Laboratory identifies the molecular determinants/therapeutic targets in tumor microenvironment that play essential roles in the cancer initiation and progression, therapeutic resistance of cancer cells, and maintenance of cancer stem cell niche; to understand the underlying mechanisms of their effects; and to develop therapeutic agents and combinations that can effectively inhibit the functions/activities of these therapeutic targets.

Learn more about the Yu Laboratory