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Research Highlights

  • Discovery of connections among multiple hormone receptor systems (ErbBs, IGF1 receptor, and Met) that has impact on use of drugs targeting these receptors for lung and breast cancer (Drs. DiGiovanna and Stern). Dr. Stern also elucidated much of the biology leading to the development of Herceptin for treatment of breast cancer.
  • Development of a new anti-cancer drug (now in clinical trials) targeted at the Raf signaling protein, important in melanoma and many other cancers (Dr. Schlessinger). Dr. Schlessinger also developed the drug Sutent, now in use for renal cell carcinoma and GIST. Much of our fundamental understanding of how receptors regulate cell growth is based on Dr. Schlessinger’s work.
  • Elucidation of the three-dimensional structure of the receptor Kit, leading to a new approach to targeting this receptor and its relatives (Dr. Schlessinger). Dr. Boggon is using a related approach to study an important group of receptor-activated proteins known as JAKs.
  • Models for regulation of cell migration through effects on the cellular skeleton network by Abl and Arg proteins, leading to new ideas about treatment of breast cancer (Dr. Koleske). Drs. Mooseker, Cooley, and Calderwood are working on related processes.
  • Understanding the functional interactions between bone and breast tissues that clarifies breast cancer metatastasis to bone, and the cause of microcalcifications in breast tissue (Dr. Wysolmerski).
  • Development of new image analysis and computational approaches for biomarker analysis in tissue microarrays, with practical implications for personalized cancer therapies in several diseases including breast cancer and melanoma (Drs. Rimm, Maihle, Reiter).
  • Development of new microscopic techniques for studying changes in the cytoskeleton in living cells, a powerful approach for studying processes including migration and invasion as they happen (Dr. Toomre).
  • Elucidation of how cell surface proteins modulate formation of blood vessels, important for development of the blood supply for tumors (Dr. Madri).
  • Integrated analysis of signaling networks mediated by protein kinases (Dr. Turk) and their antagonists (Dr. Bennett) that are central to activity of these signaling pathways and are major therapeutic targets.
  • Dr. DeCamilli studies processes that modulate the transport and suppression of activated signaling proteins, which themselves represent a new area of therapeutic opportunities.