Research Programs

The Cancer Consortium is organized into nine highly collaborative research programs that are discipline or disease specific, bringing together over 620 faculty with research interests in basic, clinical/translational, public health sciences and global health.

Biostatistics and Computational Biology

Program Leaders — Charles Kooperberg, Ph.D.; Phil Bradley, Ph.D.
Associate Program Leader — Patrick Heagerty, Ph.D.

The Biostatistics and Computational Biology Program is a collaborative entity that carries out quantitative and computational research in a variety of areas relevant to understanding a variety of issues related to cancer. Program interests span a range of activities, from the technical development of quantitative or experimental methodologies to activities that emphasis substantive research programs in epidemiology, to biological research programs that use experimental approaches alongside computational methods.   Program strengths include the development of rigorous statistical and mathematical methods for personalized medicine and molecular diagnostics, understanding the molecular biology and the adaptive immune response, and the development of a variety of statistical, computational and experimental approaches that address high impact opportunities in cancer research – including methods for the analysis of complex association studies and longitudinal data, and experimental/computational methods characterize variations in quantity, sequence, and structure of the human genome, transcriptome, and proteome. 


Cancer Basic Biology

Program Leaders — Jonathan Cooper, Ph.D.; Ray Monnat, MD
Associate Program Leaders — David MacPherson Ph.D.; Barry Gumbiner, Ph.D.

This program has a sharp focus on cancer basic biology and translational science and active research and accomplishments in many of the key areas and growing points for cancer biology and translational cancer medicine.  The Cancer Basic Biology Program aims to understand the basic nuclear and cellular mechanisms that regulate the normal and transformed phenotype; to develop new molecular approaches and tools to advance disease diagnosis and therapy; and to develop with other Consortium programs the intellectual and technical infrastructure to advance translational cancer research. 

Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention and Control

Program Leaders — Kathi Malone, Ph.D.; Marian Neuhouser, Ph.D.
Associate Program Leaders — Scott Ramsey, M.D.,Ph.D.; Peggy Hannon, MPH, Ph.D.

The goals of the Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Program are to reduce cancer incidence and mortality through research on genetic and environmental causes of cancer, risk reduction, early detection, and improved treatment outcomes among both general and targeted populations.  An important aspect of this research is translation of findings into practice.  The scientific goals for the CEPC Program are as follows:

  1. Discover and characterize genetic and environmental causes of human cancer and its progression, with expanded research emphasis on the identification of underlying mechanisms.
  2. Identify and evaluate cancer screening and surveillance methods that can be readily translated into clinical practice and health policy, with an emphasis on underserved populations.
  3. Develop and implement strategies to enhance cancer survivorship and improve cancer treatment effectiveness.
  4. Conduct rigorous clinical and community-based intervention studies in targeted and general populations to identify ways to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.

Gastrointestinal Cancer

Program Leaders — Bill Grady, M.D.; Ray Yeung, M.D.
Associate Program Leader — Sunil Hingorani, M.D., Ph.D

The GI Oncology Program has active research programs in a variety of areas that can be broadly classified as basic, translational, and clinical research as well as in outcomes and epidemiological research.  The goals of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program are as follows:

1) To develop novel biomarker assays that can be used for the prevention and/or early detection of colorectal, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers and for directing personalized therapy for patients with these cancers and with liver cancer.

2) To develop novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of pancreatic cancers directed at the tumor microenvironment.

3) To develop a program that determines the molecular alterations in the major GI cancers (esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, and colon) and uses the molecular profile to effectively treat the cancers. 

Global Oncology

Program Leaders — Hootie Warren, MD, PhD.; Christopher Murray, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Program Leaders — Nina Salama, Ph.D.; Denise Galloway, Ph.D.

Cancer is increasingly recognized as a threat to the health of people worldwide, with 70% of new cancer cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries by 2020. Cancer research conducted outside the United States has elucidated novel risk factors for cancer development, described unique molecular signatures for common malignancies, and suggested potential new strategies for cancer prevention and treatment. This program leverages the resources of the Cancer Center to coordinate and catalyze effective research outside the United States through three Specific Aims: 1) Develop data systems, methods and visualization to support global surveillance of cancer; 2) Expand our understanding of cancer biology, and develop new strategies for cancer prevention and treatment, through the conduct of oncology research in low- and middle-income countries; 3) Facilitate multidisciplinary research in infection-related cancers. 

Hematologic Malignancies

Program Leaders — Fred Appelbaum, M.D.; Geoff Hill, M.D.
Associate Program Leaders — Hans-Peter Kiem, M.D.; Janis Abkowitz, M.D.

The Hematologic Malignancy Program focuses on non-transplant molecularly targeted therapies, transplantation biology and clinical transplantation.  The goal of the Hematologic Malignancy Program is to develop a better understanding of, and treatments for, hematological malignancies. Four areas of focus predominate: (1) Myeloid Leukemia Biology; (2) I Developmental Therapeutics; (3) Preclinical Transplantation Biology; and (4) Clinical Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

Immunology and Vaccine Development

Program Leaders — Philip Greenberg, M.D.; Julie McElrath, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Program Leaders — Stanley Riddell, M.D.; Michael Jensen, M.D.

This program brings together researchers and clinicians engaged in the study of cancer immunobiology, basic immunology, immunotherapy, vaccine development, and infectious causes of cancer who shared a vision of developing immunologic strategies that could be deployed to harness the immune system for targeting malignancies and infectious diseases that develop/progress in immuno-compromised individuals. Overcoming many of the identified obstacles is requiring the combined efforts of: basic investigators exploring the cellular and molecular events that contribute to the activation and regulation of innate and adaptive immune responses, the requirements for expanding antigen specific cells, and the factors that sustain adaptive memory responses; preclinical investigators assessing novel vaccine designs and regimens, cell expansion strategies, and genetic modification of components of the immune system; and clinical investigators determining the therapeutic activity of the immune responses that can be achieved in humans. The IVD program strengthens existing collaborative interactions, provides opportunities for new collaborations, and promotes a synergy of research efforts that will accelerate progress in cancer immunology, immuno-therapeutics, and vaccine development.

Prostate Cancer

Program Leaders — Pete Nelson, M.D.; Dan Lin, M.D.
Associate Program Leader — Ruth Etzioni, Ph.D.

The primary objective of the Prostate Cancer Program is to advance and exploit scientific knowledge that will lead to a reduction in the morbidity and mortality attributed to this common and complex disease and to an improvement in patients’ quality of life. The program endorses integrated approaches involving basic scientists, population scientists and clinical investigators devoted to exploiting a fundamental understanding of cancer (and host) biology.  Thematically, the program has three primary areas of focus: 1) understanding the heritable and environmental risks contributing to prostate cancer risk and lethality; 2) targeting mechanisms contributing to castration-resistant prostate cancer progression; 3) distinguishing lethal from indolent prostate cancer through discovery and validation of prognostic biomarkers and a treatment plan that affords longitudinal assessments of risk.

Women's Cancer

Program Leaders — Nancy Davidson, M.D.; Liz Swisher, M.D.
Associate Program Leaders — Julie Gralow, M.D.; Barbara Goff, M.D.

The Women’s Cancer Research Program brings together a highly cross-disciplinary group of investigators dedicated to reducing the incidence and subsequent mortality of breast and gynecologic cancers. The program fosters interdisciplinary research among faculty in the Consortium and in the clinical community to improve cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment. Central research themes of the program include improving strategies for identifying women at high risk for breast and gynecological cancer, developing and validating assays for early diagnosis of breast and gynecological cancer, improving the efficacy and safety of adoptive T-cell transfer for breast and gynecological cancer, and improving response and lowering resistance to various forms of chemotherapy for patients with breast and gynecological cancer. 

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