Our Research

The faculty of the Hematology and Medical Oncology Department consists of clinical and basic science investigators who conduct a broad range of basic, translational and clinical research on a variety of human malignancies. Our faculty members make cutting edge discoveries that lead to better understanding and improved detection and treatment of cancer. Malignancies under study include all major and some rare types, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, head and neck cancer, hematopoietic malignancies, tumors of the immune system such as lymphomas or myelomas, sarcoma, brain tumor etc.

Our basic research covers genetic and biochemical foundations of cancer, from the identification of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes to their functional characterization in various models such as genetically modified mouse models. Multiple investigators are working to discover novel signaling pathways underlying the proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and metastasis of cancer cells, which could potentially lead to the identification of novel targets for therapeutic intervention. These studies span post-translational modifications of tumor molecules, including phosphorylation of metabolic enzymes that could alter the metabolism thus contributing to the development and progression of cancer. The role of the extracellular matrix and tumor microenvironment in metastatic progression are also under investigation, along with other aspects of tumor metastasis. Mechanisms of resistance to current therapies are another area of research.

The Department also has a broad range of translational studies among the faculty members. Chemoprevention is one such area of study. Natural dietary compounds as well as synthetic chemicals are being evaluated for their roles in the prevention of tumor development and progression from premalignant lesion to invasive cancer to metastasis, in addition to the identification of molecular targets. Epigenetic strategies are also applied.

Another important area of translational study is drug development and improvement for the treatment of different types of cancers, including the discovery of potential new drugs, modification of available drugs, and development of multifunctional nanoparticles for targeted cancer therapy. Nanoparticle-based anticancer drug delivery is also investigated. We also have investigators who work to better understand drug disposition through population and individualized pharmacokinetic parameters, with the goal to optimize anticancer therapies and to improve treatment outcome of novel and existing anticancer therapies.

Several investigators focus on the development of new therapies for different malignancies, including the approach of targeting cellular signaling pathways to directly kill cancer cells or to sensitize cancer cells to current chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The combination of various nutrients with chemotherapy and radiation therapy is also studied. Other novel therapies under development include adoptive immunotherapy, fusion proteins as a new class of therapeutic agents, and cellular therapy. Multiple lines of study are ongoing with the goal of individualized therapy, including the development of new technologies that allow matching a patient’s unique cancer growth signals with specific therapies that block such signals.

As a clinical department, we have a broad range of clinical studies, including a large number of clinical trials that are conducted to evaluate new drugs/agents, new devices, new regimens, and new strategies for the treatment and prevention of cancer. We also develop and design cutting edge ethical research in order to ensure that our clinical research is ethical.