Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Tumor Biology Program

Program Leader(s)

Description of the Program

The Tumor Biology Research Program focuses on understanding how cancers arise and progress by defining key interactions between tumor and non-malignant tissue to ultimately develop promising new treatment strategies for cancer patients. These concepts inform the objectives of TB Program members at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, as it pursues an overall mission to provide cutting-edge care for cancer patients in Florida, the United States, and around the globe. Cancer research is in flux – advancing from a primary focus on individual gene mutations to a broader and more integrated perspective that includes cellular interactions within the complex biological landscape of tumors. The leadership and structure of the Tumor Biology program exist to enhance these efforts by:

  • Fostering collaborative and synergistic relationships
  • Investing in promising new projects and investigators that span the continuum of basic science, translational and clinical research
  • Creating an overall environment of scientific excellence and collegiality.

Goals of the Program

The Tumor Biology Program is organized into three interrelated specific aims:

  • Elucidate mechanisms underlying tumor initiation and progression: Members conduct comprehensive, collaborative research to elucidate mechanisms of cell-intrinsic and heterotypic signaling that underlie critical tumor initiation and progression events. These studies delineate the roles of developmental, hormone-driven and stress-protective signaling in driving cancer cell transformation and metastasis.
  • Determine how inflammation and immunity influence tumorigenesis and the tumor microenvironment: Members are studying how inflammatory signals, generated within cancer cells, or by the extrinsic effects of depression, obesity, inflammatory ligands or tumor stromal cells promote tumor formation. They are also investigating how tumors develop and progress in response to changes in innate or adaptive immune function, how the local microbiome affects immune function and how to better direct immune effector cells to target malignant cell growth.
  • Discover and validate biological and molecular-based therapeutic approaches to cancer: Tumor Biology members are bridging basic, translational, and clinical sciences, to support, facilitate, and expedite the translation of bench discoveries into pre-clinical and clinical studies. This work is focused on developing approaches for targeting key oncogenic signaling pathways that include wnt, Notch, Hh, RAGE, AR, and STAT, in order to develop innovative therapeutic intervention strategies that can improve clinical outcomes.


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