Masonic Cancer Center

A comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute

Translational Working Groups

What is a Translational Working Group?

The Translational Working Groups (TWGs) are a mechanism to foster interprogrammatic and translational research to promote new discoveries. TWGs organize MCC members from various research programs into groups designed to address site-specific cancers, foster collaborations, and provide the necessary scientific and clinical expertise to improve outcomes for the specific disease sites.

What does a TWG do?

  • Focuses on one type, or a group of closely related types, of cancer
  • Applies the scientific findings of our programs to specific types of cancer
  • Enhances interactions between MCC members to address disease-specific questions
  • Provides the structure to allow MCC investigators opportunities to interact and discuss specific clinical problems and priorities, which can lead to novel approaches to cancer prevention or treatment, and to identifying potential areas of collaboration
  • Catalyzes new multi-investigator, multidisciplinary preclinical and clinical translational research
  • Communicates with University of Minnesota Foundation development officers and craft literature describing efforts in research area
  • Advises the MCC director and executive committee on spending philanthropic funds designated for a TWG site-specific cancer
  • Advises program leaders and members on clinical resources for research in TWG cancer types
  • Provides a “front door” for philanthropists and community members interested in site specific cancers

Creating new Translational Working Groups

An investigator interested in creating a new translational working group can download a copy of the application.

Our Translational Working Groups



  • Brain Tumor TWG

    Brain cancer that originates in the tissue of the brain is called primary brain cancer. Cancer that begins elsewhere in the body and spreads to the brain is known as metastatic or secondary brain cancer. Metastatic brain tumors are the most common brain tumors. Our neuro-oncology specialists treat patients with a broad spectrum of noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) tumors of the brain and nervous system. The Brain Tumor TWG team brings together experts from basic science, to clinical research, to translational research, and to the patient to create truly comprehensive care.

    The Brain Tumor TWG has a monthly executive meeting, which occurs every second Thursday from 7:45-8:45 a.m. in CCRB 3-124.

    Additionally, we host a monthly data club (a combination journal club and opportunity for people to present their own research), which is open to anyone interested in brain tumor research. This Brain Tumor Program Data Club occurs every second Thursday from 9-10 a.m. in CCRB 3-150.

    Administrative Contact: Rebecca Godar - - 612-626-0369

    Leader: David Largaespada, Ph.D.

  • Breast Cancer TWG

    Breast cancer forms in the tissue of the breasts, usually in the tubes that carry milk to the nipple (ducts) or the glands that produce milk (lobules). Each cancer behaves differently, and accurately identifying the cancer is essential to effective treatment. The Breast Cancer TWG takes an innovative approach to care, participating in clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of cancer, as well as testing the effectiveness of hormone-blocking or dietary interventions.

    Meetings take place on the fourth Friday of each month, 8-9 a.m., Benson Room, C546 Mayo.

    Administrative Contact: Jean Jacoby – – 612-626-5475

    Leader: Douglas Yee, M.D.

  • Cutaneous Oncology TWG

    Our vision is to reduce and eventually eliminate the burden of cancers arising in the skin. Through interdisciplinary collaboration among our basic, clinical and population scientists at the University of Minnesota and Masonic Cancer Center, we will create an outstanding cutaneous oncology translational research program to conduct state-of-the-art scientific research resulting in the prevention, early detection, treatment, and enhancement of survivorship of children and adults with these cancers.

    Meetings take place on the second Thursday of the month, 11:30 - 12:30, PWB 8-335.

    Administrative Contact: Jane Boyer - - 612-626-4454

    Leaders: DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Heather Nelson, Ph.D., M.P.H.

  • Prostate and Urologic Cancer TWG

    Genitourinary cancers include a variety of cancers that are found in the male and female urinary tract, including the bladder, kidneys and ureters. They are also found in the male reproductive organs, including the prostate, testicles and penis. The Genitourinary Tumors Translational Working Group has served as leaders in genitourinary cancer diagnosis and treatment for many years. Our program pioneered endoscopic urology using percutaneous approaches to biopsy masses in the kidney. In addition, the prostate-specific antigen test was first validated at the University of Minnesota as a marker for prostate cancer.

    Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month, 8-9 a.m., in the Urology conference room, B564 Mayo.

    Administrative Contact: Liz Mayock – – 612-625-7486

    Leader: Scott Dehm, Ph.D.

  • Gynecologic Cancers TWG

    Gynecologic cancers are cancers that occur in the female reproductive organs, including the following: vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tube, ovary, and primary peritoneal cancer. As one of the largest gynecologic cancer services in the Midwest, we provide comprehensive care and access to the latest in research, as well as new approaches to treating gynecologic cancers. We were named a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health by the Office of Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Meetings take place every five weeks and meetings times vary. Contact Kit Browwn for details:

    Administrative Contact:Kit Brown –, 612-624-9904

    Leader: Melissa Geller, M.D.

  • Heme Malignancy TWG

    Heme Malignancies are cancers that affect the body's bone marrow, blood cells, lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. They’re also known as blood cancers. Blood cancers are typically classified into four categories: Leukemia, Lymphoma (Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma), Myeloma, and Myelodysplastic syndromes. We have an internationally recognized team of blood cancer experts known for their expertise in treating all forms of blood cancer.

    Administrative Contact Kris Blomquist, 625-8942,

    Leader: Veronika Bachanova, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Sarcoma TWG

    Sarcoma cancers, also known as musculoskeletal or bone and soft tissue cancers, develop in the body’s connective tissue, such as: fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. A multidisciplinary team works with patients to develop a customized treatment plan. We are continually improving treatment for patients with bone and soft tissue cancers through laboratory work, clinical research and education.

    Administrative Contact: Rick Jacobson – – 612-626-5501

    Leader: Brenda Weigel, M.D., M.Sc.

  • Thoracic TWG

    Thoracic cancers include cancers of the lungs, bronchial tubes, and esophagus. Our lung and esophageal cancer specialists are experts in treating lung cancer and all chest-related cancers. Patients with lung and esophageal cancers often have complex medical needs and require comprehensive therapies. Our lung and esophageal cancer specialists see more than 1,000 patients each year and work with them to develop a customized treatment plan.

    Meetings take place the second Monday of each month, 2-3 p.m. in 656 MCRB.

    Administrative Contact: Eric Zhang,, 612-625-0458

    Leader: Jill Siegfried, Ph.D.

Upcoming TWG meetings
  • May 3, 2016: Prostate & Urologic Cancers Translational Working Group

    8-9 a.m., B-564 Mayo
    Mohammed Alshalafa, Ph.D., Senior Bioinformatician, GenomeDx | Decipher will present the Decipher Grid database.

    NOTE: The Prostate & Urologic Cancers Translational Working Group meeting is being moved is being moved to next week due to the Annual AUA meeting and several of our meeting attendees traveling for this meeting.

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  • Last modified on April 28, 2016