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
  • Cancer research has yielded scientific breakthroughs that offer patients more options, more hope for survival and a higher quality of life than ever before. The 14.5 million cancer patients living in the United States are living proof that cancer research saves lives. Now, in addition to the clinic, hospital an...
  • Advances in cancer treatment, built on discoveries made in the laboratory then brought to the bedside, have phenomenally changed the reality of living with a cancer diagnosis. More than any other time in history, people diagnosed with cancer are more likely to survive and to enjoy a high quality of life. Howeve...
  • While health care reform has led to an increase in the number of people signing up for health insurance, many people remain uninsured or are not taking full advantage of the health benefits they now have. Still others are finding that, although their premiums are affordable, they aren’t able to see the do...
  • Kidney cancer rates and thyroid cancer rates in adults have continued to rise year after year. Now a new study has found that incidence rates for these cancers are also increasing in children — particularly in African-American children. The study, published online this month in Pediatrics, examined childhood ca...
  • Thyroid cancer has become one of the fastest-growing cancers in the United States for both men and women. The chance of being diagnosed with the cancer has nearly doubled since 1990. This year an estimated 63,000 people will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the United States and nearly 1,900 people will die ...
  • Older teenagers and young adults traditionally face worse outcomes than younger children when diagnosed with brain cancer and other central nervous system tumors. A first-of-its-kind study shows why. A team of researchers from the departments of Population Sciences and Pathology at City of Hope recently examine...
  • Cancer treatment can take a toll on the mouth, even if a patient’s cancer has nothing to do with the head or throat, leading to a dry mouth, or a very sore mouth, and making it difficult to swallow or eat. Here’s some advice from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)  on how to ease cancer-related dis...
  • Radiation oncology is one of the three main specialties involved in the successful treatment of cancer, along with surgical oncology and medical oncology. Experts in this field, known as radiation oncologists, advise patients as to whether radiation therapy will be useful for their cancer – and how it can best ...
  • There’s more to cancer care than simply helping patients survive. There’s more to cancer treatment than simple survival. Constant pain should not be part of conquering cancer,  insists Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N., director of nursing research and education at City of Hope. She wants patients and caregivers...
  • Even its name is daunting. Systemic mastocytosis is a fatal disease of the blood with no known cure. But a new study suggests a bone marrow transplant may be the answer for some patients. While rare, systemic mastocytosis is resistant to treatment with drugs and, when aggressive, can be fatal within four years ...
  • Could what you eat affect the health of your chromosomes? The short answer is, “Yes.” Researchers led by Dustin Schones, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, and Rama Natarajan, Ph.D., director of the Division of Molecular Diabetes Research and the National Business Products Industry ...
  • September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Here, Bertram Yuh, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology at City of Hope, explains the importance of understanding the risk factors for the disease and ways to reduce those risks, as well as overall prostate health. “Wha...
  • ** Learn more about prostate health, plus prostate cancer research and treatment, at City of Hope. ** Learn more about getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting us online or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what’s required for a consult at City of Hope and help yo...
  • Childhood cancer survival rates have increased dramatically over the past 40 years. More than 80 percent of children with cancer now survive five years or more, which is a tremendous feat. Despite the survival rate increase, cancer continues to be the No. 1 disease killer and second-leading cause of death in ch...
  • Although a stem cell transplant can be a lifesaving procedure for people diagnosed with a blood cancer or blood disorder, the standard transplant may not be appropriate for all patients. This is because the conditioning regimen (the intensive chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments preceding the transplant) is...