A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Make an appointment: 800-826-HOPE
Cancer Biology Bookmark and Share

Cancer Biology

City of Hope's Department of Cancer Biology offers a multidisciplinary research and training environment in a number of scientific areas, including:
 
  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Cancer Metabolism
  • Cancer Prevention and Diagnosis
  • Developmental Biology
  • Drug Resistance
  • Epigenetics
  • Hormonal Carcinogenesis
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Tumor Biology
 
The department focuses on understanding the basic mechanisms of genetics, gene expression and function, signaling pathways, mutagenesis, DNA repair and epigenetics as they relate to the development and progression of cancer. Researchers within the department collaborate with clinical and basic research programs within City of Hope and with other research centers nationally and internationally. The research team explores mechanisms of cancer development (known as carcinogenesis) and aim to develop powerful approaches to cancer prevention and to improve diagnostic tools for detecting cancer early, when it is most treatable.

Laboratory Research

Shiuan Chen, Ph.D. - Chair & Professor - Hormones and Cancer: Chemoprevention
Dr. Chen has studied the role of aromatase in breast cancer development for more than 20 years. Currently Dr. Chen's research explores the mechanisms of endocrine resistance in breast cancer cells and seeks to understand the structure-function relationship of the aromatase protein in order to develop chemoprevention strategies using phytochemicals with anti-aromatase activity. His laboratory also investigates the impact of environmental chemicals on human health by modulating aromatase activity and expression.
 
Susan Kane, Ph.D. - Associate Chair & Professor - Drug Resistance
Dr. Kane's lab studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of drug resistance to learn more about the mechanism of action of anticancer drugs, why treatments fail and which patients will best respond to specific therapies.
 
WenYong Chen, Ph.D. – Associate Professor - Epigenetics, Cancer and Aging
Dr. Chen's lab deciphers roles and functions of epigenetic regulators and determines their differential contribution to cancer and longevity, and through which, to develop approaches to improve cancer treatment, reduce cancer risk and promote healthy aging.
 
Gerald Holmquist, Ph.D. – Professor Emeritus
 
Mei Kong, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor - Signal Transduction and Cancer Metabolism
Dr. Kong's research lab aims to delineate the strategies used by tumor cells to survive periods of metabolic stress and then to develop novel therapies targeting nutrient sensing pathways of neoplastic cells. Currently their research focuses on protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) complexes in regulation of cancer cell survival upon nutrients deprivation.
 
Timothy O'Connor, Ph.D. – Professor - DNA repair, mutagenesis and cancer
Dr. O'Connor's lab is interested in DNA repair mechanisms, the biological consequences of repair failure, exploiting DNA repair mechanisms for therapeutic benefit and how DNA repair mechanisms can be used to control the epigenome of cells.
 
Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D. – Lester M. and Irene C. Finkelstein Endowed Chair in Biology & Professor - Epigenetics and Genetics of Cancer
Dr. Pfeifer's laboratory studies biological mechanisms involved in human cancer. Our goal is to determine the molecular mechanisms that are involved in formation of genetic changes (gene mutations) and epigenetic changes (DNA methylation and histone modifications) in the human genome.
 
Arthur Riggs, Ph.D. – Adjunct Professor (Chairperson-Diabetes and Director Emeritus, BRI) - DNA Methylation and Mammalian Gene Regulation
Dr. Riggs' lab research is broad-based and encompasses chromatin structure-function and gene regulation. Current studies include epigenetic changes in early mouse development, including demethylation mechanisms.
 
Dustin Schones, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor - Epigenomics of development and disease
Dr. Schones lab is interested in the role of chromatin in gene regulation, how other regulatory elements interact with chromatin and how disruptions in these systems lead to diseases like cancer and diabetes. The lab is furthermore interested in the application of genomics to personalized medicine.
 
Judith Singer-Sam, Ph.D. – Professor Emeritus –Epigenetics and Developmental Biology
Monoallelic expression is a characteristic of genes that are implicated in certain inherited disorders of the CNS as well as some cancers. Using clonal CNS-derived neural stem cells as a model system, Dr. Sam's group is studying possible mechanisms for such expression.
 
S. Emily Wang, Ph.D. – Associate Professor - Growth Factors and Cancer
Dr. Wang's group focuses on the role of signaling by growth factor receptors and oncogenes in cancer progression as well as the development of molecular therapeutics based on mechanistic study.
 

Cancer Biology Faculty

Cancer Biology

Cancer Biology

City of Hope's Department of Cancer Biology offers a multidisciplinary research and training environment in a number of scientific areas, including:
 
  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Cancer Metabolism
  • Cancer Prevention and Diagnosis
  • Developmental Biology
  • Drug Resistance
  • Epigenetics
  • Hormonal Carcinogenesis
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Tumor Biology
 
The department focuses on understanding the basic mechanisms of genetics, gene expression and function, signaling pathways, mutagenesis, DNA repair and epigenetics as they relate to the development and progression of cancer. Researchers within the department collaborate with clinical and basic research programs within City of Hope and with other research centers nationally and internationally. The research team explores mechanisms of cancer development (known as carcinogenesis) and aim to develop powerful approaches to cancer prevention and to improve diagnostic tools for detecting cancer early, when it is most treatable.

Laboratory Research

Shiuan Chen, Ph.D. - Chair & Professor - Hormones and Cancer: Chemoprevention
Dr. Chen has studied the role of aromatase in breast cancer development for more than 20 years. Currently Dr. Chen's research explores the mechanisms of endocrine resistance in breast cancer cells and seeks to understand the structure-function relationship of the aromatase protein in order to develop chemoprevention strategies using phytochemicals with anti-aromatase activity. His laboratory also investigates the impact of environmental chemicals on human health by modulating aromatase activity and expression.
 
Susan Kane, Ph.D. - Associate Chair & Professor - Drug Resistance
Dr. Kane's lab studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of drug resistance to learn more about the mechanism of action of anticancer drugs, why treatments fail and which patients will best respond to specific therapies.
 
WenYong Chen, Ph.D. – Associate Professor - Epigenetics, Cancer and Aging
Dr. Chen's lab deciphers roles and functions of epigenetic regulators and determines their differential contribution to cancer and longevity, and through which, to develop approaches to improve cancer treatment, reduce cancer risk and promote healthy aging.
 
Gerald Holmquist, Ph.D. – Professor Emeritus
 
Mei Kong, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor - Signal Transduction and Cancer Metabolism
Dr. Kong's research lab aims to delineate the strategies used by tumor cells to survive periods of metabolic stress and then to develop novel therapies targeting nutrient sensing pathways of neoplastic cells. Currently their research focuses on protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) complexes in regulation of cancer cell survival upon nutrients deprivation.
 
Timothy O'Connor, Ph.D. – Professor - DNA repair, mutagenesis and cancer
Dr. O'Connor's lab is interested in DNA repair mechanisms, the biological consequences of repair failure, exploiting DNA repair mechanisms for therapeutic benefit and how DNA repair mechanisms can be used to control the epigenome of cells.
 
Gerd Pfeifer, Ph.D. – Lester M. and Irene C. Finkelstein Endowed Chair in Biology & Professor - Epigenetics and Genetics of Cancer
Dr. Pfeifer's laboratory studies biological mechanisms involved in human cancer. Our goal is to determine the molecular mechanisms that are involved in formation of genetic changes (gene mutations) and epigenetic changes (DNA methylation and histone modifications) in the human genome.
 
Arthur Riggs, Ph.D. – Adjunct Professor (Chairperson-Diabetes and Director Emeritus, BRI) - DNA Methylation and Mammalian Gene Regulation
Dr. Riggs' lab research is broad-based and encompasses chromatin structure-function and gene regulation. Current studies include epigenetic changes in early mouse development, including demethylation mechanisms.
 
Dustin Schones, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor - Epigenomics of development and disease
Dr. Schones lab is interested in the role of chromatin in gene regulation, how other regulatory elements interact with chromatin and how disruptions in these systems lead to diseases like cancer and diabetes. The lab is furthermore interested in the application of genomics to personalized medicine.
 
Judith Singer-Sam, Ph.D. – Professor Emeritus –Epigenetics and Developmental Biology
Monoallelic expression is a characteristic of genes that are implicated in certain inherited disorders of the CNS as well as some cancers. Using clonal CNS-derived neural stem cells as a model system, Dr. Sam's group is studying possible mechanisms for such expression.
 
S. Emily Wang, Ph.D. – Associate Professor - Growth Factors and Cancer
Dr. Wang's group focuses on the role of signaling by growth factor receptors and oncogenes in cancer progression as well as the development of molecular therapeutics based on mechanistic study.
 

Cancer Biology Faculty

Cancer Biology Faculty

Overview
Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope is responsible for fundamentally expanding the world’s understanding of how biology affects diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and diabetes.
 
 
Research Departments/Divisions

City of Hope is a leader in translational research - integrating basic science, clinical research and patient care.
 

Research Shared Services

City of Hope embodies the spirit of scientific collaboration by sharing services and core facilities with colleagues here and around the world.
 

Our Scientists

Our research laboratories are led by the best and brightest minds in scientific research.
 

City of Hope’s Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences equips students with the skills and strategies to transform the future of modern medicine.
Develop new therapies, diagnostics and preventions in the fight against cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
 
NEWS & UPDATES
  • Genetics, genes, genome, genetic risk … Such terms are becoming increasingly familiar to even nonresearchers as studies and information about the human make-up become more extensive and more critical. At City of Hope, these words have long been part of our vocabulary. Researchers and physicians are studyi...
  • Mammograms are currently the best method to detect breast cancer early, when it’s easier to treat and before it’s big enough to feel or cause symptoms. But recent mammogram screening guidelines may have left some women confused about when to undergo annual testing. Here Lusi Tumyan, M.D., chief of t...
  • Although chemotherapy can be effective in treating cancer, it can also exact a heavy toll on a patient’s health. One impressive alternative researchers have found is in the form of a vaccine. A type of immunotherapy, one part of the vaccine primes the body to react strongly against a tumor; the second part dire...
  • The breast cancer statistic is attention-getting: One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. That doesn’t mean that, if you’re one of eight women at a dinner table, one of you is fated to have breast cancer (read more on that breast cancer statistic), but it does mean that the ...
  • Rob Darakjian was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 19 years old. He began chemotherapy and was in and out of the hospital for four months. After his fourth round of treatment, he received a bone marrow transplantation from an anonymous donor. Today, he’s cancer free. In his first post, ...
  • Advanced age tops the list among breast cancer risk factor for women. Not far behind is family history and genetics. Two City of Hope researchers delving deep into these issues recently received important grants to advance their studies. Arti Hurria, M.D., director of the Cancer and Aging Research Program, and ...
  • City of Hope is extending the reach of its lifesaving mission well beyond U.S. borders. To that end, three distinguished City of Hope leaders visited China earlier this year to lay the foundation for the institution’s new International Medicine Program. The program is part of City of Hope’s strategi...
  • A hallmark of cancer is that it doesn’t always limit itself to a primary location. It spreads. Breast cancer and lung cancer in particular are prone to spread, or metastasize, to the brain. Often the brain metastasis isn’t discovered until years after the initial diagnosis, just when patients were beginning to ...
  • Blueberries, cinnamon, baikal scullcap, grape seed extract (and grape skin extract), mushrooms, barberry, pomegranates … all contain compounds with the potential to treat, or prevent, cancer. Scientists at City of Hope have found tantalizing evidence of this potential and are determined to explore it to t...
  • Most women who are treated for breast cancer with a mastectomy do not choose to undergo reconstructive surgery. The reasons for this, according to a recent JAMA Surgery study, vary. Nearly half say they do not want any additional surgery, while nearly 34 percent say breast cancer reconstruction simply isn’t imp...
  • The leading risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman. The second top risk factor is getting older. Obviously, these two factors cannot be controlled, which is why all women should be aware of their risk and how to minimize those risks. Many risk factors can be mitigated, and simple changes can lead...
  • All women are at some risk of developing the disease in their lifetimes, but breast cancer, like other cancers, has a disproportionate effect on minorities. Although white women have the highest incidence of breast cancer, African-American women have the highest breast cancer death rates of all racial and ethni...
  • First, the good news: HIV infections have dropped dramatically over the past 30 years. Doctors, researchers and health officials have made great strides in preventing and treating the disease, turning what was once a death sentence into, for some, a chronic condition. Now, the reality check: HIV is still a worl...
  • Screening for breast cancer has dramatically increased the number of cancers found before they cause symptoms – catching the disease when it is most treatable and curable. Mammograms, however, are not infallible. It’s important to conduct self-exams, and know the signs and symptoms that should be checked by a h...
  • Rob Darakjian was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 19 years old. He began chemotherapy and was in and out of the hospital for four months. After his fourth round of treatment, he received a bone marrow transplantation from an anonymous donor. Today, he’s cancer free.   In his previ...