Cancer Research Month: Immunology, Pharmacogenomics and Experimental Therapeutics

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The research conducted by the faculty at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center is organized into six independent, but interactive, Scientific Programs that represent the breadth of our expertise and specific areas of focus.

The work conducted in these programs span the entire continuum of cancer research from basic investigations into the molecular mechanisms that drive tumor behavior to large-scale clinical trials, and the innovative translational research in between.

During National Cancer Research Month, we will introduce each of these Scientific Programs and provide examples of the innovative research that is expanding our knowledge about the causes of cancer and transforming how cancer is detected, prevented and treated.

We highlighted our first two programs, Molecular Mechanisms of Cancer Program and Hematopoiesis and Hematological Malignancies Program, last week.

Here are the third and fourth programs, built upon the collaboration between basic and clinical scientists, working towards personalized medicine and precision oncology for all cancers.

Immunology and Cancer Program

Leader: Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, professor of pathology and medicine.

The program comprises 24 UCCCC members from six departments, and aims to understand the interface between the host immune system and malignant tumors.

Program members are deciphering all aspects of immune response against tumors to develop immune-based cancer therapeutics. Using broad research approaches that span human and mouse model systems, the program encompasses a bidirectional translational approach to promote immune-mediated tumor destruction in patients with cancer.

Researchers bring new immunology concepts into preclinical models of anti-tumor immunity, translate fundamental discoveries into clinical applications, and test new hypotheses generated from these studies back in murine models.

Specific goals of the program are: to conduct fundamental investigations in immunology relevant to cancer; perform studies using preclinical models of anti-tumor immunity; and initiate clinical and translational studies of cancer immunology and novel immunotherapeutics.

Pharmacogenomics and Experimental Therapeutics Program

Leaders: Eileen Dolan, PhD, professor of medicine; Walter M. Stadler, MD, professor of medicine and surgery, Chief, Section of Hematology/Oncology

This program fosters the interaction between basic and clinical investigators, with a focus on pharmacogenomics and innovative molecular targets, across all phases of drug development.

The goal is to produce innovative and effective therapies and integrate new drugs into the development of multimodality therapies for patients with advanced solid tumors.

It represents a diverse team of 51 investigators from nine academic departments, and strives to develop innovative, personalized and effective therapies for cancer patients.

Representing the major clinical and translational arms of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the program interfaces with all scientific programs to integrate basic cancer research with clinical care and research objectives.

Research discoveries span the entire spectrum of translational research, including “bench-to-bedside” and “bedside-to-bench” concepts, as well as translation from research to practice in what has been termed “T2” translation.

Investigators in this program pursue broad pharmacogenomic, molecular target, and biomarker research in the preclinical and clinical settings, as well translate the findings into clinical practice.

About Kathleen Goss (30 Articles)
Kathleen Goss, PhD, is the Director for Strategic Partnerships and senior science writer at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center.
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