Cancer Biology Program
(Lawrence A. Donehower, Ph.D., Leader;
Franco DeMayo, Ph.D., Co-Leader)
This program has 48 research members (most with independent cancer-relevant support) whose research is focused on understanding mechanisms of cancer development and its 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 cancer signaling pathways. In addition to prostate and pediatric cancer, our members have significant expertise in lung, ovarian, pancreatic, and brain tumors.
The program has three major themes:
Animal Models of Human Cancers
Using genetically engineered mice developed at Baylor College of Medicine and other institutions, investigators in the program are developing novel cancer models by altering the structure and expression of various oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. A number of important insights relevant to the biology, diagnosis, and therapy of various cancers have been derived from these animal model studies. In addition to targeting specific genes involved in cancer, Monica Justice has led a number of large-scale phenotype-driven random mutagenesis screens of the mouse. This approach has the potential to identify new cancer-associated genes.
Human Cancer Signaling Pathways
Members of the Cancer Biology program work on human cells, tissues, and tumors with an emphasis on understanding changes in cancer-associated gene function and expression in cancer. Many of these investigations are translational as well as mechanistic and are designed to develop novel and improved diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic tools for the cancer clinic.
Cancer Genomics and Bioinformatics
The advances in DNA sequencing technologies and related genomic methods have allowed researchers to perform high throughput global genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic analyses of human cancers. A number of Cancer Biology program members are members of the Human Genome Sequencing Center or collaborate with the Sequencing Center in the global analysis of molecular alterations in human cancer types. A number of important new discoveries regarding the biological significance of cancer signaling pathways have been made. Such discoveries may lead to novel therapeutic interventions.