Molecular Medicine
The Department of Molecular Medicine of Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope  advances translational medicine through breakthroughs in basic science using chemical biology and genomic approaches. Our investigators lead cutting-edge research to determine the mechanisms underlying cancer and other serious diseases such as diabetes. The goal of the department is to customize prevention and treatment of such illnesses by developing targeted therapies for an individual’s genomic profile. Success produces more effective clinical responses to our treatments and less drug toxicity and resistance.
 
The department is composed of a carefully crafted team of experts in chemistry, biology, biochemistry and biophysics that identifies new target molecules to treat cancer, creates personalized medicines from natural products, develops bioorganic approaches for cancer therapy, and evaluates genomic markers to predict cancer risk and response to therapy. By collaborating with multidisciplinary groups that include basic, translational and clinical researchers throughout City of Hope, we transform our key findings into novel therapies that improve the quality of life for patients everywhere.
 
The department has a robust pipeline of novel, molecularly targeted therapeutics that includes engineered antibodies and small molecules. To facilitate the translation of these and other clinical candidates, the department is home to the Chemical GMP Synthesis Facility (CGSF),   which is a 3000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility where our small and large molecule therapeutics are prepared for phase I and II clinical trials. The CGSF plays a key role in bridging basic science and translational medicine at City of Hope and allows for more efficient and cost-effective means to translate our science into clinical practice. We are able to bring promising new therapies to the patient faster and more effectively. 

To accomplish our mission, the Molecular Medicine team uses approaches and technologies that include:
  • sophisticated organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry
  • high-tech protein engineering
  • functional genomics, proteomics, and microarray gene expression profiling
  • high throughput screens of plant extracts and chemical libraries
  • advanced NMR spectroscopy and computational modeling
  • state-of-the-art X-ray crystallography
  • leading-edge super-resolution microscopy
 
These activities are supported by the Drug Discovery and Structural Biology (DDSB) Core, which is also housed in the department.
 
 
Laboratory Research
 
 
Jacob Berlin, Ph.D. - Molecular medicine
Dr. Berlin’s research group is focused on the application of nanomaterials for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
 
Yuan Chen, Ph.D. - Ubiquitin-like modifications
Dr. Chen investigates post-translational modifications by ubiquitin-like proteins via a wide range of techniques that include determination of protein structures and dynamics by NMR, investigation of enzyme mechanisms by biochemical and biophysical means, and examination of the role of these modifications in response to DNA damage by cellular and molecular biology methods.
 
David Horne, Ph.D., chair  - Synthetic/medicinal chemistry
Dr. Horne’s laboratory specializes in the synthesis of complex natural products and derivatives to develop molecularly targeted agents that are less toxic and more effective in treating the unmet needs in cancer and diabetes.
 
Tijana Jovanovic-Talisman, Ph.D. - Super-resolution microscopy
Dr. Jovanovic-Talisman’s research group employs novel, quantitative imaging techniques and nano-biological assays to investigate biological mechanisms and advance therapeutics.

Theodore G. Krontiris, M.D., Ph.D. - Genetic risk and disease
Dr. Krontiris and his group examine the relationship between certain unstable regions of the genome, known as hypervariable minisatellites, and cancer risk.

John Termini, Ph.D. - Molecular medicine
Members of Dr. Termini's laboratory are interested in understanding the role of DNA adducts in cancer. This encompasses mechanisms of formation, structure elucidation of novel adducts, quantitative determination in vivo, functional implications, and removal/repair.

John Williams, Ph.D. - X-ray crystallography
Dr. Williams specializes in the use of X-ray crystallography to study protein-protein and drug-protein interactions for the design of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of cancer.