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.