Research

Molecular Mechanisms of EMT & Metastasis Program

The EMT and Metastasis Program is essentially the basic-research component of the cancer center, with a strong emphasis and strength in two existing fields and one emerging field. The existing focus areas are in: 1) Understanding the mechanisms underlying the oncogenic epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, especially the roles of transcriptional control, RNA splicing control and signaling by cell adhesion/cell polarity factors. We also investigate the mechanisms by which tumor progression is driven by EMT, including invasion, stemness, anoikis-resistance and altered cell metabolism. 2) Elucidating the mechanisms of metastasis, including cell-matrix interactions, cytoskeletal regulation, migration, invasion, and cell survival. We endeavor to integrate these focus areas wherever possible. Emerging fields of interest are in the control of EMT and metastasis by age-, diabetes/obesity- and pathogen-related inflammatory responses, and in the mechanistic relationships between wound-healing and oncogenic EMT. We also have a strong computational/systems biology group interfacing with investigators in these areas. Our translational interests are primarily in the area of novel drug and drug-target discovery, in addition to interactions with clinical scientists to address other issues. Current members of the program come from the departments of Biochemistry, Microbiology, Mathematics, Pharmacology and Physiology.

In addition to monthly program meetings and annual retreats, we have a specialized joint lab meeting on EMT (every two weeks) that include the Frisch, Ruppert, Ivanov, Tse and Stoilov labs.