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Cancer Biology

In Cancer Biology, our researchers work to reveal and understand the various steps that drive a normal cell to become a cancer cell. From molecular genetic alterations—those that change cells by mutating its DNA—to epigenetic alterations—those that change cells by altering the chemical environment of DNA—investigators are uncovering and gaining new understanding about key genes, biochemical processes, and molecular pathways cancers use to develop and grow. Starting with a cell’s earliest origins as a stem cell through its evolution to a malignant cell, researchers are deciphering the biological transformations a tumor cell undergoes to survive and spread. This understanding of the cellular origins and promoters of cancer is being applied to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.  New clinical tests are being developed that allow scientists to use these alterations to assess cancer risk, monitor, in real time, the progression of tumors and their response to therapies, and as targets for new, personalized treatment approaches. Investigators in the Cancer Biology Program collaborate with researchers in other programs, using these discoveries to advance the progress made against specific cancers, including breast, gastrointestinal, head and neck, lung, lymphoma, and prostate cancers. The Cancer Biology Program leaders are Stephen Baylin, M.D., and Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D.

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