Cancer Biology

Interested in Cancer Biology research?  Take a look at what MCDB faculty are doing in this area:

Amacher, Sharon

Interested in how cells become sequentially determined to more precisely defined fates during vertebrate embryonic development and how this process depends upon cell position and upon interactions among neighboring cells. To address these questions, we use genetics, molecular biology, time-lapse imaging, and embryology to investigate mesodermal patterning, segmentation and muscle development in the zebrafish embryo, a well-established model for human development and disease.

Basu, Sujit

Angiogenesis and vasculogenesis; tumor microenvironment including cancer stem cells; preclinical cancer chemotherapy; neural immune cross talk in cancer.

Benson Jr., Don

Research is focused in natural killer cell immunity against multiple myeloma and other B-cell hematologic malignancies.  Our work is primarily translational and concentrated in the development of novel immunotherapeutics for B-cell hematologic malignancies including cytokines, antibodies, and immune modulating agents both in a conventional setting and in the context of blood and marrow transplantation.

Brigstock, David

Characterization of connective tissue growth factor: structure-function analysis and role in fibrotic disease.

Burd, Christin

Our studies use genetically engineered model systems to gain insight into the molecular processes that govern biological aging and the development of cancer.

Burd, Craig

Steroid hormones signal through proteins that are able to bind DNA and initiate transcriptional programs.  These transcription factors are critical mediators of virtually all physiological processes and are often deregulated in diseases such as cancer.  The focus of my research is to dissect the molecular mechanisms controlling these factor’s activity with a particular interest in chromatin/epigenetic regulation.

Byrd, John

The Byrd laboratory is focused on the 1) study of molecular and immune pharmacology in hematologic malignancies and 2) biology of malignant leukemia B-cell transformation.   Our group is involved in identifying new targets for therapeutic exploitation and translating several novel targeted therapies and antibody based treatments from the lab to the clinic.

Chandler, Dawn

Cancer biology; regulation of pre-mRNA splicing in normal cellular function and disease.

Coppola, Vincenzo

Role of Neurotrophins and related molecules in cell growth and differentiation both in physiological and pathological conditions. Mouse modeling of cancer and other human diseases.

Croce, Carlo

Human cancer genetics; role of micro RNAS in cancer.

Doseff, Andrea

Mechanisms involved in cell death during the innate immune response and oncogenic transformation

Fisk, Harold

Cell cycle regulation of the Mps1 family of protein kinases; centrosome duplication and spindle checkpoint control; mis-regulation of Mps1 and its role in genetic instability and cancer.

Ganju, Ramesh

Chemokine-mediated breast cancer progression and metastasis; molecular mechanism of chemokine receptor CXCR4/CCR5-mediated pathogenesis during HIV infection; small molecular weight inhibitors for chemokine receptors and characterizing cross-talk between Slit/Robo and chemokine receptor pathways as a novel target for combating breast cancer metastasis and HIV infection.

Garzon, Ramiro

My lab is focusing on understanding the role of non coding RNAs in leukemogenesis and acute graft versus host disease.

Ghoshal, Kalpana

Role of DNA methylation and microRNAs in liver disease.

Green, Patrick

Molecular pathogenesis of human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV); molecular biology of retrovirus replication; T-cell activation/transformation.

Guo, Deliang

Dr. Guo's research focuses on Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Tumor Metabolism, Oncogenic Signaling, Autophagy, and Lipid Distribution and Trafficking

Guo, Peixuan

Dr. Guo's lab is really interdisciplinary with diverse technologies and variable projects involving the areas of cell biology, molecular medicine, virology, biophysics, biotechnology, biochemistry, chemistry, computation, biomedical engineering, single molecular optics, single molecular conductance, single pore sensing, RNA Nanotechnology, nucleic acid chemistry, cancer therapy, drug delivery, viral DNA packaging, and ATPase motors. The lab has been focused on the study of viral DNA packaging motor that is composed of a protein channel driven by six ATPase and geared by six RNA molecules.

Guttridge, Dennis

NF-kappa β regulation of cell growth and differentiation.

Hai, Tsonwin

Eukaryotic gene expression, stress responses, cell death (apoptosis), cell cycle regulation, signal transduction, molecular mechanisms of diseases including cancer, diabetes and liver dysfunction. Experimental systems include cell free system, cell culture, transgenic and knock-out mice models.

Herman, Paul

Eukaryotic cell proliferation; ras protein signaling; RNA pol II transcription.

Huebner, F. Kay

The laboratory uses tissue culture, mouse models and studies of mouse and human tissues to investigate the role of genetic changes at common chromosome fragile sites in initiation or progression of cancer. We are currently focusing on the roles of two fragile genes, which are involved in deletions early in cancer development, and in our more translational projects are studying microRNA and gene expression profiles in subtypes of breast cancer.

Jacob, Naduparambil

Radiation therapeutics, mechanisms of radiation resistance in cancers, cancer metastasis.

Jacob, Samson

Metallothionein gene expression; protein factors that modulate ribosomal RNA gene transcription; molecular mechanisms of action of 5-fluorouracil.

Jhiang, Sissy

Protein tyrosine kinases and cancers; transgenic mice for human diseases; gene transfer of sodium/iodide symporter for radioiodine treatment in human cancers.

Johnson, Robert

The Johnson laboratory uses mouse model systems to understand the molecular and genetic changes responsible for the development of pediatric brain tumors.

Kirschner, Lawrence

Molecular events leading to the formation of tumors of the endocrine glands, and the relationship of these processes to the differentiation of these tissues.

Kudryashov, Dmitri

Actin is an abundant eukaryotic protein involved in a variety of vital cellular events including, but not limited to cell migration, cytokinesis, endo- and exocytosis, organelle transport, and muscle contraction.  We are interested in deciphering molecular and cellular mechanisms of actin-based processes, their regulation by actin binding proteins and disruption by bacterial and viral pathogens.

Lee, Robert

Targeted drug delivery systems for cancer. Gene therapy. Antisense and siRNA therapy. Liposomes and nanoparticles for drug delivery. Nanoparticle based nanomedicines. Immunotherapy for cancer.

Leone, Gustavo

Cancer biology; control of cell growth and cell death.

Lesinski, Gregory

Research focuses on understanding the interactions between the host immune system and tumor cells. Ultimate goal is to develop novel therapeutic or chemo-preventative approaches to help patients with cancer and improve existing therapies. Inhibition of the oncogenic STAT3 pathway and maximizing the effect of immune based therapy are of particular interest.

Lessnick, Stephen

My research takes a translational approach to Ewing sarcoma, with the overarching goal of applying basic science discoveries to the clinical care of patients with this disease. We therefore have a significant focus on the basic biology of Ewing sarcoma, including the function of the EWS/FLI oncoprotein as a transcription factor, the associated epigenetic effects mediated by the fusion protein, and the phenotypic consequences mediated by EWS/FLI and its target genes important for the development of this disease.  We use a number of techniques, including high-throughput genomics, molecular biology, and biochemistry, to accomplish these goals.  We strive to translate these findings to patients, by assessing whether new discoveries might serve as critical nodes needed for tumor development.  For example, the lysine specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) enzyme is required for the transcriptional function of EWS/FLI.  We have been studying LSD1 inhibitors as potential therapies for Ewing sarcoma by analyzing the effects of LSD1 blockade on transcription, phenotype, and ultimately tumorigenesis both in vitro and in vivo.  Finally, we also analyze patient specimens as a means to validate our laboratory-based studies;  these samples also provide us with new hypotheses to study in the lab.  Together, this philosophy and approach allow us to take a comprehensive approach to understanding this disease, and in doing so, to make an impact on patients with this highly-aggressive pediatric and young-adult cancer.

Lin, Jiayuh

Molecular mechanisms of activation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3) pathway in human cancers; tyrosine kinase profile in human ovarian and bladder cancers, and Rhabdomyosarcomas; regulation of gene transcription and expression by p53 tumor suppressor gene in cancer and normal cells.

Liu, Shan-Lu

Professor Liu studies virus-host interactions, in particular how RNA viruses enter host cells and cause pathogenesis in humans and animals. While in the past the Liu lab has been mainly focusing on retroviruses, including HIV, current efforts also include some new human emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, such as Ebola and Zika. Rotation and research projects include a better understanding the molecular process by which RNA viruses enter host cells or fuse with them, as well as developing effective ways to deliver human gene therapy. The Liu lab also studies some interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), including IFITM, Viperin and Tetherin, with an ultimate goal of developing effective therapeutic strategies. Another aspect of Liu lab research is viral oncology, with major efforts in elucidating how some viral oncogenes induce oncogenic transformation leading to cancer as well as discovering new tumor viruses that could be associated with human lung and other epithelial cancers

Lin, Young

Roles of growth factors and steroidogenic enzymes in hormone-dependent cancers.


Signal transduction pathways that regulate the cellular responses to extracellular stimuli. Investigate the role of MAP kinase phosphatases in the regulation of inflammatory cytokine biosynthesis in macrophages during bacterial infection. Investigations the basic mechanisms of aging and the molecular mechanisms via which triptolide induces apoptosis in a variety of cancer cells.

Ludwig, Thomas

Functional analysis of the tumor suppressor genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 in normal and malignant development. Cancer biology.  Animal models of human cancer.

Mathe, Ewy

My goal is to develop and apply analytical methods in genomics, epigenomics, and metabolomics to carefully characterize disease, cancer especially, at a molecular level.  Please visit my website at for current research and news

McHugh, Kirk

The research efforts in my laboratory rely upon an integrated scientific approach that is designed to identify the genetic pathways responsible for the ontogenesis and pathogenesis of smooth muscle tissues. The dysregulation of smooth muscle differentiation represe.

Muthusamy, Natarajan

Research interests are focused on the following areas: 1) Biological therapies for hematological malignancies with primary focus on acute and chronic leukemia; 2) Development and characterization of clinically relevant animal models of lymphoid malignancies; 3) Targeted delivery of RNA based therapeutics in lymphoid and myeloid malignancies.

Oakes, Christopher

Our laboratory investigates the epigenetic mechanisms of hematopoietic development and leukemogenesis. We employ genome-wide and targeted profiling of epigenetic marks in combination with functional molecular approaches to elucidate the role of epigenetic mechanisms in normal and malignant blood cells. We also aim to discover predictive epigenetic biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets of disease.

Ostrowski, Michael

Nonnuclear oncogenes, ETS-family transcription factors, and the regulation of transcription during cellular differentiation and malignant transformation.

Parthun, Mark

The role of histone posttranslational modifications in the formation and regulation of chromatin.

Parvin, Jeffrey

Systems Biology, Breast Cancer, BRCA1, Ubiquitination.

Pichiorri, Flavia

Elucidating the role of microRNAs and epigenetic aberrations in multiple myeloma (MM). Lab is also focused on studying the role of MM microvesicles in cell-cell communication and on preclinical evaluation in experimental therapeutics for clinical trials.

Rosol, Thomas

The laboratory utilizes mouse models of human cancer to investigate the role of parathyroid hormone-related protein in bone metastasis and cancer-associated hypercalcemia. Metastases are monitored using in vivo bioluminescence of luciferase-transfected tumor cells. Molecular studies are focused on the regulation of PTHrP mRNA stability by transforming growth factors.

Schoenberg, Daniel

Regulation of mRNAstability; pre-mRNA processing and translation initiation; posttranscriptional control by estrogen.

Shields, Peter

The Shields’ laboratory focuses on carcinogenesis, cancer risk and the development of new biomarkers for cancer risk. This involves a combined laboratory and epidemiology research program. The current emphasis is on diet and lifestyle, and using various omic’s technologies.

Simcox, Amanda

The role of oncogenes, tumor suppressors and Egfr signaling in growth control and development in Drosophila.

Symer, David

Causes and consequences of endogenous transposition and alternative RNA splicing in mouse and man.

Toland, Amanda

Identification and characterization of low penetrance cancer susceptibility genes.

Wang, Qianben

Understanding the molecular pathological mechanisms underlying the development and progression of prostate cancer. Currently using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) combined with massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq) technique to study combinatorial transcriptional regulation by androgen receptor, collaborating transcription factors and histone modifications in prostate cancer cells. We will also apply the genome-wide ChIP technique to clinical samples obtained from different stages of prostate cancer, which would allow identification of critical cis-regulatory sequences contributing to prostate cancer progression.

Wang, Ruoning

Our Group's fundamental research interest is to understand how does eukaryotic cell integrate various extracellular and intrinsic signals/cues to dictate cellular fate (cell proliferation, death, growth and differentiation). We focus on the interplay between cell metabolic programs and cell signaling cascades in patho-physiological contexts such germ cell development, tumorigenesis and immunes response. Notably, these are three examples that the fate change of a single cell (a germ cell, clonal expanding transformed cell and lymphocyte) will change the fate of whole organism. Our experimental models, each one of these has unique biological and technical features, include mouse model of human tumors and autoimmune disease (accessible for genetic and pharmacological modulations), frog oocytes (with defined cell cycle stage and accessible for direct intracellular injection of biological material), primary cells: MEFs, lymphocytes and macrophages (with defined genetic background and accessible genetic modulation and responsive to various patho-physiological stimulations).

Wu, Lai-Chu

V(D)J recombination; protein binding to recombination signal sequences.

Yoon, Sung OK

Cell signaling; neuronal apoptosis; transgenic mice; myelination; role of small GTPases in brain development; nerve injury.

Yu, Jianhua

Objective of first research area is to investigate natural killer (NK) cell innate immune response to tumor cells through understanding signaling pathways, cell activation, cell subsets, and cell development of NK cells. The goal of the project is to perform NK cell-based immunotherapy to treat leukemia, glioblastoma or hepatocellular carcinoma. The second research area is regarding hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). This includes stem cell mobilization and HSCT associated complications such as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and leukemia relapse.