Salk Cancer Center

Programs

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Salk Cancer Center - Programs

Research Programs


The NCI Cancer Center is comprised of two programs:

Program 1: Genetic, Epigenetic, and Immune Circuits in Cancer

Cancer is at its root cause, a disease of specific genetic aberrations that promote tumor initiation and then are selected to promote tumor progression. Understanding the genetic contribution to cancer and how that is then altered by epigenetic controls, as well as the surrounding tumor microenvironment, and in particular the immune system is the focus of the Salk Cancer Center Program 1, Genetic, Epigenetic, and Immune Circuits in Cancer (GEI). This program utilizes a multi-faceted approach which includes mechanistic studies of gene function, dissection of genetic and epigenetic networks, technological development which leads to novel diagnostic markers, and new therapeutic approaches. Program 1 (GEI) has three overarching themes:
  1. Understanding genetic and epigenetic rewiring of transcription in tumorigenesis.
  2. Examining the contribution of altered chromosome biology and telomeres to tumorigenesis and therapeutic response
  3. Investigating the contribution of microenvironment and immune cells in modulating tumor biology and therapeutic response.
The outstanding research of GEI Program investigators has been recognized by their involvement in national and international cancer research projects including Stand Up to Cancer. Program co-Leader Ron Evans is a well-known recipient of the Lasker, Wolff, and Shaw awards in addition to being the lead PI on a current Stand Up 2 Cancer Dream Team focused on pancreatic cancer.
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The program includes eighteen members:

Ronald Evans (Program Leader)

Professor and Director
Gene Expression Laboratory
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology


Susan Kaech (Program Leader)

Professor and Director
NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis
NOMIS Chair


Janelle Ayres

Associate Professor
NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis
Helen McLoraine Developmental Chair


Jesse Dixon

Helmsley-Salk Fellow
Helmsley Center for Genomic Medicine




Joseph Ecker

Professor
Director, Genomic Analysis Laboratory
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Salk International Council Chair in Genetics


Diana Hargreaves

Assistant Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Richard Heyman and Anne Daigle Endowed Development Chair


Martin Hetzer

Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation Chair


Patrick Hsu

Helmsley-Salk Fellow
Helmsley Center for Genomic Medicine




Jan Karlseder

Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Donald and Darlene Shiley Chair


Björn Lillemeier

Associate Professor
Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center



Vicki Lundblad

Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Becky and Ralph S. O'Connor Chair


Graham McVicker

Assistant Professor
Laboratory of Genetics



Marc Montminy

Professor
Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology
J.W. Kieckhefer Foundation Chair


Joseph Noel

Professor and Director
Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Arthur and Julie Woodrow Chair


Satchidananda Panda

Professor
Regulatory Biology Laboratory



Edward Stites

Assistant Professor
Integrative Biology Laboratory



Geoffrey Wahl

Professor
Gene Expression Laboratory
Daniel and Martina Lewis Chair


Ye Zheng

Associate Professor
NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis



Program 2: Animal Models of Cancer and Therapeutics Program

The overall goal of the Animal Models of Cancer and Therapeutics (AMT) Program is to develop and utilize advanced autochthonous mouse models to study distinct facets of tumor biology in its native environment, and to combine the development and application of novel therapeutic approaches to different model systems. The goals of these studies are represented in the following broad Specific Aims:
  1. Developing new animal models that allow exploration of complex tumor biology in vivo: roles of tissue context, stem cell populations, and differentiation.
  2. Development of novel therapeutic approaches using small molecule and biological- and viral-based methodologies.
  3. Understanding metabolic rewiring in distinct tumor types with distinct driver mutations and developing novel metabolism based diagnostics and therapeutics.
These topics are studied both in cell cultures and in vivo in animal models using diverse methods including molecular cell biology, chemistry, and systems biology. The outstanding research of AMT Program investigators has been recognized by their involvement in national and international cancer research projects, including Program co-Leader Dr. Clodagh O’Shea, who is a lead investigator on a $3M NIH 4D Nucleome Grant. O’Shea is also a recently appointed HHMI Faculty Scholar in addition to being a recipient of the Beckman Young Investigator Award and the W. M. Keck Medical Research Program Award. Program co-Leader Tony Hunter discovered a process called tyrosine phosphorylation that goes awry in many human cancers. This breakthrough revolutionized cancer medicine and led to a new type of pharmaceutical, the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, transforming several types of leukemia from fatal cancers into manageable chronic conditions. His work has been recognized with numerous awards including the Pezcoller-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research, the Sjöberg Prize and the Wolf Prize in Medicine.
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The program includes fourteen members:

Tony Hunter (Program Leader)

American Cancer Society Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Renato Dulbecco Chair


Clodagh O’Shea (Program Leader)

Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar



Rusty Gage

President
Professor
Laboratory of Genetics
Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease


Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte

Professor
Gene Expression Laboratory
Roger Guillemin Chair


Gerald Joyce

Professor
Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics



Kuo-Fen Lee

Professor
Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology
Helen McLoraine Chair in Molecular Neurobiology


Greg Lemke

Professor
Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory
Françoise Gilot-Salk Chair


Dmitry Lyumkis

Assistant Professor
Laboratory of Genetics



Axel Nimmerjahn

Associate Professor
Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center



Samuel Pfaff

Professor
Gene Expression Laboratory
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Benjamin H. Lewis Chair


Alan Saghatelian

Professor
Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology
Dr. Frederik Paulsen Chair


Gerald Shadel

Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Audrey Geisel Chair in Biomedical Science


Reuben Shaw

Professor
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
William R. Brody Chair