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The Bert Vogelstein Laboratory seeks to develop new approaches to the prevention or treatment of cancers through a better understanding of the genes and pathways underlying their pathogenesis.
Our major focus is on cancers of the colon and rectum. We have shown that each colon neoplasm arises from a clonal expansion of one transformed cell. This expansion gives rise to a small benign colon tumor (called a polyp or adenoma). This clonal expansion and subsequent growth of the tumors appears to be caused by mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, and the whole process is accelerated by defects in genes required for maintaining genetic instability. Mutations in four or five such genes are required for a malignant tumor to form, while fewer mutations suffice for benign tumorigenesis. As the mutations accumulate, the tumors become progressively more dangerous.
Current studies are aimed at the further characterization of the mechanisms through which these genes act, the ident...ification of other genes that play a role in this tumor type, and the application of this knowledge to patient management. view more
Cynthia Sears Laboratory
Work in the Cynthia Sears Laboratory focuses on the bacterial contributions to the development of human colon cancer and the impact of the microbiome on other cancers and the therapy of cancer. The current work involves mouse and human studies to define how enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis, pks+ Escherichia coli, Fusobacterium nucleatum, biofilms and the colonic microbiota induce chronic colonic inflammation and colon cancer. Prospective human studies of the microbiome and biofilms in screening colonoscopy are in progress as are studies to determine if and how the microbiome impacts the response of individuals with cancer to immunotherapy and other cancer therapies.
Franck Housseau Lab
The Franck Housseau Lab focuses on the role of the microbiome in colorectal tumorigenesis and on developing a better understanding of the tumor immune microenvironment. The lab is currently working to define the biomarkers of a pre-existing antitumor immune response in metastatic colorectal cancer to define a population of patients eligible for checkpoint blockade therapies.