Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Molecular Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics Program

Program Leader(s)

Description of the Program

The developing Molecular Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics Program (MOET) integrates investigators with a common scientific interest in understanding molecular pathways central to the cancer phenotype and discovering novel targets that can be exploited clinically. The MOET Program was formed 1.5 year ago as a result of the outgrowth of the previous program (MTDT). As a result of extensive targeted recruitment in breast cancer research, a mature Breast Cancer Program and the developmental programs, GU and MOET were created. The MOET Program is the only non-disease based program engaged in investigating the basic molecular mechanisms of diverse cancer phenotypes. It is currently organized into three themes, which have already resulted in the identification of novel molecular targets for therapeutic intervention. These areas have been built around long-standing expertise on campus and will be strengthened by targeted recruitment of investigators with expertise in the themes currently represented within the program.

The principal aim of the MOET Program is to increase cure rates for cancer patients. This is achieved by understanding molecular pathways central to the cancer phenotype and discovering novel targets that can be exploited clinically. The guiding principle of the program is to develop concepts in the laboratory that will evolve into new treatment paradigms and translate into Phase I/II clinical trials.

The operational principle of the program is to bring together individuals with unique and complementary expertise in signal transduction, cell cycle control, tumor progression, and tumor metabolism in order to foster novel drug development leading to early clinical trials which will be implemented within Sylvester’s Phase I Group.

Program investigators have been organized into three interactive clusters, pursuing research in each of the following themes:

  • Tumor metabolic pathways
  • Developmental signaling pathways and cancer
  • Early clinical trial development

The expertise available in each of these clusters maximizes a rational approach to therapeutics by having a balanced membership structure that includes basic scientists, physician scientists, and clinicians. It also results in the application of a variety of methodological approaches and strategies aimed at the simultaneous targeting of various molecular pathways in cancer cells, therefore maximizing the chances of developing new effective cancer therapies. A Phase I Group has been organized to facilitate early translation of pre-clinical efforts, which derive from basic investigations within the program. Consequently, MOET investigators aim their research efforts at applying basic laboratory discoveries leading to identification of molecular targets into the development of novel therapies.

The MOET Program also provides an infrastructure of shared resources to facilitate the discovery and evaluation of new cancer therapies and the scientific environment suitable for intra- and inter-programmatic collaborations within Sylvester. The strengths of this program stem from a programmatic structure that clusters investigators with significant expertise in related areas, many of whom are recognized national and international leaders in their field, promoting scientific exchange that generates cutting-edge hypotheses, ability to comprehensively test these hypotheses by developing intra- and inter-programmatic collaborations, and a proven track record of translating this laboratory hypotheses into clinical trials.

Goals of the Program

The overall goal of this program is to develop and implement novel treatment approaches that will increase cure rates for cancer patients and benefit the South Florida community. The specific program goals are:

  • Delineate signal transduction pathways critical for cancer cell proliferation and survival leading to the identification and validation of novel molecular targets within these pathways
  • Discovery, development and design of biological and drug based therapies targeted for tumor specific individualized therapies
  • Development of diagnostic markers and translation of intra- and inter-programmatic hypotheses-driven strategies into early Phase I and II clinical trials

Participants

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