Cancer Biology


Leader: Angela Tyner, PhD

The scientific focus of the Cancer Biology (CB) program  is on mechanisms that underlie tumor development and progression. There is a strong emphasis on the signaling proteins and pathways, and the gene regulators that are de-regulated in tumors. Members focus on the identification and characterization of molecules and pathways that are uniquely required for tumor cells to survive and progress, with the ultimate goal of identifying molecular targets for cancer therapy. In addition, members also study:

1) Tumor suppressor genes

2) Cell death regulation

3) Stem cells

4) Viral mechanisms of cancer

5) Structure of proteins involved in cancer.

There is significant research focus also on the membrane proteins and extra-cellular matrix proteins that are involved in invasion and tumor progression.

Our program is organized around three themes:

1) Signaling pathways and gene regulators in tumor development

2) Mechanisms of tumor suppression

3) Tumor cell survival and metastasis.

Program members employ multidisciplinary approaches to interrogate cancer mechanisms ranging from cell biologic studies to mouse modeling and genetics. For example, genes linked to liver, colon, and breast cancers are being studied using mouse models to understand how they contribute to malignant progression. In addition, cancer-related pathways, which are poorly understood in mammalian system because of complexities, are being studied in yeast and drosophila using the power of genetics available to those systems. Program members frequently collaborate with clinicians and pathologists in the College of Medicine to validate their new findings in human cancers.