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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.
 
Robert Hickey, Ph.D. - Molecular Medicine
 
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.
 

Molecular Medicine Faculty

Molecular Medicine

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.
 
Robert Hickey, Ph.D. - Molecular Medicine
 
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.
 

Molecular Medicine Faculty

Molecular Medicine 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
  • The lack of a practical way to produce and store enough stem cells for larger-scale therapies and clinical trials is creating a bottleneck in stem cell research. A new grant to City of Hope from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will help solve that problem. The $899,728 grant, awarded Thursday...
  • City of Hope has long known what researchers increasingly are confirming: Gardens and natural surroundings help seriously ill people recover from their treatment ordeals. Already a trailblazer in the creation of beautiful natural spaces for cancer patients and their families, on Jan. 15,  City of Hope dedicated...
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  • We’ve seen it in science fiction: The aliens begin terra-forming a planet to create a friendly habitat that gives them, not the inhabitants, all the advantages when the colonization begins. Turns out, cancer does essentially the same thing when it metastasizes, according to new research from City of Hope. The f...
  • Equipping the immune system to fight cancer – a disease that thrives on mutations and circumventing the body’s natural defenses – is within reach. In fact, City of Hope researchers are testing one approach in clinical trials now. Scientists take a number of steps to turn cancer patients’ T cells – white b...
  • As treatments for lung cancer become more targeted and effective, the need for better technology to detect lung cancer mutations becomes increasingly important. A new clinical study at City of Hope is examining the feasibility of using blood and urine tests to detect lung cancer mutations, potentially allowing ...
  • When it comes to breast cancer risk, insulin levels may matter more than weight, new research has found. The study from Imperial College London School of Public Health, published in the journal Cancer Research, indicates that metabolic health – not a person’s weight or body mass index – increases breast cancer ...
  • No one ever plans to have cancer – and there’s never a good time. For Homa Sadat, her cancer came at a particularly bad time: just one year after losing her father to the pancreatic cancer he had battled for two years. She was working a grueling schedule managing three commercial office buildings. She’d just [&...
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  • Surgery is vital in the treatment of cancer – it’s used to help diagnose, treat and even prevent the disease – so a new colorectal cancer study linking a decrease in surgeries for advanced cancer to increased survival rates may raise more questions than it answers for some patients. The surgery-and-surviv...
  • Age is the single greatest risk factor overall for cancer; our chances of developing the disease rise steeply after age 50. For geriatric oncology nurse Peggy Burhenn, the meaning is clear: Cancer is primarily a geriatric condition. That’s why she is forging inroads in the care of older adults with cancer. Burh...
  • One of American’s great sportscasters, Stuart Scott, passed away from recurrent cancer of the appendix at the young age of 49. His cancer was diagnosed when he was only 40 years old. It was found during an operation for appendicitis. His courageous fight against this disease began in 2007, resumed again with an...
  • When Homa Sadat found a lump in her breast at age 27, her gynecologist told her what many doctors say to young women: You’re too young to have breast cancer. With the lump dismissed as a harmless cyst, she didn’t think about it again until she was at a restaurant six months later and felt […]
  • What most people call a “bone marrow transplant” is not actually a transplant of bone marrow; it is instead the transplantation of what’s known as hematopoietic stem cells. Such cells are often taken from bone marrow, but not always. Hematopoietic stem cells are simply immature cells that can ...
  • Doctors have long known that women with a precancerous condition called atypical hyperplasia have an elevated risk of breast cancer. Now a new study has found that the risk is more serious than previously thought. Hyperplasia itself is an overgrowth of cells; atypical hyperplasia is an overgrowth in a distorted...