Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer
About the Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program
Anja Bielinsky, Ph.D.
Peter Bitterman, M.D.
The Masonic Cancer Center's Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer (GMOC) research program consists of 34 faculty members at all ranks from 10 different departments within the Medical School on the Minneapolis and Duluth campuses, the School of Dentistry, the College of Science and Engineering, the College of Pharmacy, and the School of Veterinary Medicine.
The scientific goals of the program are to define and understand the genetic changes that occur during cancer development, including the specific changes that drive tumor initiation and progression and those that influence cancer susceptibility.
To achieve these goals, GMOC is focused on three research themes:
- Cancer gene discovery and analysis: genetics of cancer susciptibility and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis, genetic screens for cancer-relevant phenotypes in animal models, functional analysis of cancer genes, and genome-wide analysis of gene expression
- Genome stability: chromosome segregation; DNA replication, repair and recombination; DNA
- Cancer gene thearpy and genome modification: building animal and human cell-based cancer models, gene therapy
Hideki Aihara, Ph.D.
Understanding how cancer-causing mutations are introduced by the APOBEC3B cytosine deaminase using x-ray crystallography and elucidating three-dimensional
structure of the enzyme and enzyme-DNA complexes
Anindya Bagchi, Ph.D.
Complex genetic traits in cancer, including the 1p36 locus, in which he identified a novel tumor suppressor, the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein (CHD5).
Anja Bielinsky, Ph.D.
Mechanism controlling genome stability using budding yeast and human cell lines; mutations that affect strand synthesis and have been directly linked to early-onset lymphoma
Peter Bitterman, M.D.
Translational control mechanisms in cancer; use of genome-wide tools to assess gene expression in cancer and define mechanisms of pathological gene co-regulation at the level of ribosome recruitment to mRNA
Ran Blekhman, Ph.D.
Understanding the genetic basis of host-bacteria interactions using genomic approaches; the role of the microbial communities in the colonic tumor microenvironment in disease institution and progression.
Duncan Clarke, Ph.D.
Molecular mechanisms responsible for S-phase checkpoint control and the proper segregation of chromosomes during mitosis.
Robert Cormier, Ph.D.
Mouse cancer genetics; ransposon mutagenesis in mouse models of GI cancer; mapping and characterization of cancer modifier genes;
functional studies of genes of the Mom1 locus including Pla2g2a
Julia Davydova, M.D., Ph.D.
Oncolytic virus therapy for cancer as well as combining this therapy with radiation and chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer
Levi Downs, Jr., M.D.
Role of human papillomavirus in the growth and spread of cervical cancer and the development of new therapeutic options.
Craig Eckfeldt, M.D., Ph.D.
Understanding the role of RAS signaling pathways in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) to provide a foundation for the rational development of novel targeted therapies for human AML.
Perry Hackett, Jr., Ph.D.
Gene engineering and human gene therapy; use of transposons as vectors for gene therapy as well as tagging and mapping genes in vertebrate chromosomes, focusing on Sleeping Beauty-mediated therapy in humans
Reuben Harris, Ph.D.
The role of human cytidine deaminases (AID and the APOBEC family of proteins) in immunology, retrotransposon restriction, and cancer mutation
Eric Hendrickson, Ph.D.
Use of biochemical and molecular biology techniques to study mammalian double-strand break repair and telomere maintenance in human cells
Betsy Hirsch, Ph.D.
Human DNA instability syndromes; chromosomal translocations in leukemia
Mahmoud Khalifa, M.D., Ph.D.
Clinical and translational research in gynecologic, hepato-biliary and gastrointestinal disease including cancer using immunohistochemical techniques; antibodies and biomarkers as prognosticators of how a tumor may progress and respond to treatment
Mark Kirstein, Pharm.D.
Oncology, clinical pharmacology of anti-cancer agents; cell culture models to evaluate administration schedules for anti-cancer agents with the goal of optimizing chemotherapy administration through assessment of drug pharmacokinetics in human subjects
Robert Kratzke, M.D.
Molecular abnormalities in lung cancer and mesothelioma, focusing primarily on cell cycle regulator genes and their loss of function in cancer; detection of micrometastatic disease in lung cancer and the acquired molecular abnormalities in micrometastases.
kuang at cs.umn.edu
Rui Kuang, Ph.D.
Computational biology, biomedical informatics and machine learning; developing machine-learning algorithms for problems in cancer genomics, biological network analysis and protein function/structure analysis.
David Largaespada, Ph.D.
Cancer genetics, insertional mutagenesis, transposons, Sleeping Beauty, murine leukemia viruses, brain tumors, sarcoma, myeloid leukemia, colorectal cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, neurofibromatosis type 1
Robert Madoff, M.D.
Establishing a clinical and research registry for patients at high risk for hereditary cancer and use of a family cancer screening tool for individual risk assessment. Optimizing preoperative imaging of rectal cancer using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to identify residual rectal cancer following neoadjuvant therapy.
Louis Mansky, Ph.D.
Cell and molecular biology of HIV and HTLV; antiviral drug discovery and development; antiviral drug resistance; HIV genetic variation, evolution and population genetics; viral quasispecies; virus assembly; evolution of emerging viruses
Scott McIvor, Ph.D.
Use of recombinant retroviral and lentiviral vectors for gene transfer into hematopoietic stem cells to treat cancer and inherited disorders; introduction of drug-resistance genes into normal hematopoietic cells to protect against toxic side effects of cancer chemotherapy; use of adeno-associated virus for treatment of storage diseases and as a vector for gene transfer into the central nervous system for treatment of neurological disorders; adaptation of a novel vertebrate transposon Sleeping Beauty to viral and non-viral delivery systems for gene therapy.
Jaime Modiano, V.M.D., Ph.D.
Breed specific genetic effects on cancer susceptibility in dogs as well as the genetic basis of specific cancers in dogs using comparative oncology approaches
Branden Moriarity, Ph.D.
Genetic origins of the development and progression of childhood cancers including sarcomas, leukemia, and brain tumors; utilizing novel technologies to more accurately model cancer to test new treatments and validate mechanisms of disease development and progression such as Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases and the CRISPR/Cas9 system.
Rebecca Morris, Ph.D.
Stem cells and non-melanoma skin cancer.
Chad Myers, Ph.D.
Toxicological studies to identify specific anti-cancer drug targets
Zohar Sachs, M.D., Ph.D.
Dependence of leukemic cells on oncogenic signaling. Using a model of AML driven by Mll/AF9 and NRAS, we integrate signaling data with gene expression data to study the signals critical for leukemia maintenance and how to pharmacologically inhibit these signals for therapeutic effect.
Naoko Shima, Ph.D.
Development of new approaches in viral and transposon-mediated gene transfer and the use of retroviral cDNA libraries for genetic screens cultured cells.
Alexandra Sobeck, Ph.D.
The Fanconi anemia pathway, a cancer predisposition syndrome that leads to genome instability and results in bone marrow failure using biochemistry in the Xenopus laevis models system and human cells in tissue culture
Timothy Starr, Ph.D.
Genetic basis of ovarian, lung, and colon cancer with the goal of developing individualized, targeted therapies
Clifford Steer, M.D.
Gene transfer/gene therapy for the liver; role of microRNAs in colon cancer
Subbaya Subramanian, Ph.D.
MicroRNA mediated gene regulation in human sarcomas; gene expression profiles; developing novel diagnostic markers and identification of therapeutic targets in sarcomas and other cancers
Bharat Thyagarajan, M.D., Ph.D.
Genetic susceptibility to breast cancer; the role of DNA repair pathways in determining outcomes after chemotherapy and hematopoietic cell transplants
Brian Van Ness, Ph.D.
Genetics of multiple myeloma; role of specific mutations (RAS, Rb, and p530 in the biology of myeloma; therapeutic responses and changes in gene expression profiles; utilization of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis to identify genetic associations with myeloma risk and response to therapy
Christine Wendt, M.D.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); identification of biomarkers of chronic allograft rejection and causal pathways in COPD leading to lung cancer; co-director of Lung Volume Reduction Surgery Program and participant in NIH COPD Clinical Research Network
Masato Yamamoto, M.D., Ph.D.
Cancer gene therapy with Adenovirus Vector; conditionally replicative adenovirus for the treatment of cancer; non-invasive in vivo molecular imaging; gene therapy of gastrointestinal diseases, cancers of pancreas, esophagus, prostate, breast, and multiple myeloma
Lin Zhang, Ph.D.
Statistical ares of variable selection, graphical modeling, factor analysis and function data analysis with application to genomics studies of different cancers, including bladder cancer, breast cancer, and multiple myeloma