Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Molecular Biology & Genetics Program

The mission of the Molecular Biology and Genetics Program (MBG) is to make discoveries into the mechanisms of tumorigenesis and translate these findings into the clinic to improve treatment of hematopoietic and solid organ cancers. The MBG Program consists of 38 members that include basic scientists, clinicians, and population health researchers. Together, they comprise a strong research program that integrates fundamental studies of molecular oncogenesis, transcriptional regulation, and chromatin structure, regulation of immune cell generation and function, and pathogenic mechanisms of infectious agents including oncogenic viruses with translational applications in hematological and solid malignancies, vaccine development, and viral-mediated therapeutics.

The Molecular Biology and Genetics Program (MBG) is led by Christine M. Eischen PhD, and Bruno Calabretta MD PhD. This Discipline-Based Program includes 38 basic, clinical, and population researchers. Members of this Program focus on mechanisms underlying the process of tumorigenesis, including the role of transcriptional regulation, chromatin structure, and DNA repair, the role of innate and adaptive immunity in tumors, and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) for treatment of hematological malignancies, vaccine development and viral-mediated therapeutics, and risk factors for hematological malignancies. In the last five years, MBG members have revealed how epigenetic marks are established during DNA replication, identified mechanisms governing the interaction of repair proteins with damaged DNA, defined contributions of non-coding RNA to tumorigenesis and tumor cell survival, and developed homologous recombination inhibitors. This Program is an integral component of SKCC and has been in existence as an independent Program since SKCC was established.

Leadership

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Program Leader- Christine M. Eischen, PhD, is Professor and Vice Chair of Cancer Biology and Special Advisor for Basic Science to the President of Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Eischen is an established investigator that was recently recruited to SKCC to lead this program, addressing concerns raised during the last review. She is an accomplished investigator with a long-standing interest in tumor initiation with a focus on MYC induced B-cell lymphomagenesis. Dr. Eischen has made seminal discoveries in lymphoma development, apoptosis, and regulation of genome stability. She elucidated the critical role of the ARF/MDM2/p53 pathway in inhibiting MYC-induced lymphoma development, and recently identified a novel regulator of MYC transcriptional activity and a previously unknown MYC-induced apoptotic pathway mediated by microRNA. With whole genome sequencing of patient samples of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Dr. Eischen has identified mutations that may be drivers and targetable for this malignancy and that phototherapy used to treat this disease is likely contributing to its progression for some patients. Dr. Eischen was the recipient of the prestigious Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar Award for her work in lymphoma. In recent years, Dr. Eischen has expanded her research to solid tumors (e.g. lung, breast, and ovary). She was the first to identify an oncogenic microRNA in human lung adenocarcinoma, the overexpression of which independently correlated to patient survival and induced lung adenocarcinoma in mice. She also reported the inhibition of DNA double-strand break repair by MDM2 could be capitalized on for the treatment of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. Dr. Eischen has published multiple high impact papers in peer-reviewed journals with her paradigm-shifting discoveries in multiple fields. She has held several leadership positions prior to joining SKCC. She also serves on the editorial board of Molecular Cancer Research and is a frequent reviewer for NCI study sections. In addition to her research, Dr. Eischen is an exceptional mentor of trainees and faculty. Prior to joining SKCC, she led the career development program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for female faculty and has been the recipient of multiple mentoring awards.

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Program Co-Leader- Bruno Calabretta MD PhD, is Professor of Cancer Biology and an established investigator with a long-standing interest in the regulation of normal hematopoiesis and mechanisms of leukemogenesis, in particular the role of BCR-ABL proteins in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Dr. Calabretta has held many SKCC leadership positions over the last 21 years. Dr. Calabretta’s research interests are the regulation of normal hematopoiesis by transcription factors and the role of oncogenic tyrosine kinases in leukemogenesis. He has made seminal contributions in elucidating BCR-ABL-dependent signaling pathways involved in aberrant regulation of cell proliferation, survival, differentiation of Ph+ transformed cells, as well as the role of C/EBPa and MYB family members in the regulation of normal hematopoiesis. His laboratory was the first to demonstrate that induction of autophagy is a mechanism responsible for the survival of tyrosine kinase inhibitor-treated CML stem cells. Dr. Calabretta is the author of more than 230 papers, most published in high-impact peer-reviewed journals. He received the prestigious Leukemia Society Scholarship from the Leukemia Society of America. He has been Associate Editor for Cancer Research and Experimental Cell Research and has served on the Editorial Board of Cancer Research and theAmerican Journal of Pathology.

Members

ALPDOGAN, ONDER

ALUGUPALLI, KISHORE R.

CALABRETTA, BRUNO

CARABASI, MATTHEW

DEBES, GUDRUN F

DE ROOS, ANNECLAIRE J

DESSAIN, SCOTT K.

EHRLICH, GARTH

EISCHEN, CHRISTINE

FLOMENBERG, NEAL

FORTINA, PAOLO

GROSSO, DOLORES

HADDAD, ELIAS

HOOPER, D. CRAIG

HOU, YA-MING

IACOVITTI, LORRAINE

JAYNES, JAMES B.

KASNER, MARGARET T

KIRINO, YOHEI

KLUMPP, THOMAS

MANSER, TIMOTHY

MARTINEZ-DONATE, ANA

MAZIN, ALEXANDER

MAZO, ALEXANDER

MCMAHON, STEVEN B

MEUCCI, OLIMPIA

MOMPLAISIR, FLORENCE

PEIPER, STEPHEN

PORCU, PERLUIGI

RIGOUTSOS, ISIDORE

ROOT, MICHAEL

SCHNELL, MATTHIAS

SIGAL, LUIS

SNYDER, CHRSITOPHER M.

SYKULEV, YURI

YANG, HAIFENG