The Cancer Biology program has 55 research members, 21 clinical investigators and seven adjunct members.

Research in the Cancer Biology program is focused on understanding fundamental mechanisms of cancer development, promotion and metastasis, with implications for therapeutic intervention. Investigators rely heavily on genetic and molecular biological techniques, and many utilize genetically altered animal models, and perform related studies with human cells and tissues to investigate key mechanisms in cancer and tumor biology.

In addition to prostate and pediatric cancer, our members have significant expertise in bladder, lung, ovarian, pancreatic and brain tumors.

The Cancer Biology program has three major themes:

  • Discovery
  • Tumor Progression
  • Translational


Investigators in the program are using computational methods to evaluate large data sets including TSGA data. Moreover, focus groups are using state-of-the-art epigenomic deconvolution methods to evaluate the complexities of altered gene expression in tumors relative to the cellular landscape of cancer cells and microenvironmental cells.

The program fosters interactions between investigators studying a variety of cancer types using common analytical methods and approaches. Together, these interactions permit our investigators to understand the association of altered gene activity with specific cell types within heterogeneous tumors and within the tumor microenvironment, including immune, stroma, and vascular compartments.

This work has allowed researchers to perform high throughput global genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic and proteomic analyses of human cancers to foster new discovery of key mechanisms.

Tumor Progression

Investigators in the program form focus groups to understand fundamental mechanisms of oncogenesis and tumor progression.

These groups include interests in basic alterations that lead to oncogenesis and mechanisms that regulate epithelial to mesenchymal transition events during cancer progression.  Moreover, a group of members have focused on bone metastasis mechanisms in breast cancer, prostate cancer, and osteosarcoma. 

Finally, a group has focused on biological basis for racial disparity and health disparities in prostate cancer progression.


The program fosters interactions between members and investigators in the Disease Working Groups and clinical members of the Cancer Center. The goal of the Translational theme is to foster the transition of discoveries at the laboratory bench to use of these discoveries in the clinic in terms of diagnostics, prognostics, and new therapeutic approaches.

Each member lists translational goals and desired endpoints of their basic research and these help the program generate interactions between the basic sciences and clinical activities with the goal of providing new ideas and approaches for cancer patients.