Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics

The Department of Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics was established to study the fundamental mechanisms of DNA replication and of DNA damage response that occur during cell growth. Efficient DNA replication and damage responses are important for maintaining genome integrity and for preventing cancer development, but it also helps to protect cancer cells from the effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

The department currently has five research groups working under its chair, Binghui Shen, PhD, in an effort to define different aspects of genome maintenance that contribute to tumor etiology. Researchers within the Department of Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics share a common interest in studying the contours of DNA damages induced by radiation and chemicals, as well as those arose during normal cellular processes, such as DNA replication and transcription. These talented groups of researchers strive to find a solution for chemo- and radiation resistance by modulating DNA damage repair pathways during cancer therapy. The department’s principal investigators and their associates tirelessly work in close collaboration with radiation oncologists, clinical pathologists, and other scientists at City of Hope.

Binghui Shen, Ph.D. - Enzymology of DNA Replication and Repair; Etiological Mouse Models of Cancer
Using genetic mouse models of cancer, Dr. Shen studies enzymes and mechanisms involved in the DNA replication-coupled repair, such as Okazaki fragment maturation and repair of DNA damage that is caused by radiation and by other environmental insults.

Jeremy Stark, Ph.D. - The Regulation and Fidelity of Chromosomal Break Repair Pathways
Dr. Stark’s laboratory seeks to understand the factors and conditions that affect the regulation and fidelity of chromosomal break repair in mammalian cells.

Yilun Liu, Ph.D. - Genome Instability and Human Diseases
Dr. Liu’s long-term agenda is to understand what aspects of genome maintenance and of DNA metabolism are required to enable normal biological development and cancer prevention.

Yanzhong Yang, M.D., Ph.D. - Mechanisms of Gene Regulation and of Genome Stability
Dr. Yang’s laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms that regulate histone modifications, gene expression and genome stability, as well as their implications for human diseases.

Terence Williams, M.D., Ph.D. - Radiation Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics
Dr. Williams specializes in treating patients with thoracic and gastrointestinal cancers, with an emphasis on nonsmall cell lung, pancreatic and hepatobiliary malignancies. His research interests are in stereotactic body radiation therapy, experimental therapeutics, radiogenomics, DNA repair, radiobiology, nutrient scavenging and theranostics.

Mustafa Raoof, M.D. - DNA Repair Mechanism in Pancreatic Cancer
Dr. Raoof conducts laboratory research focusing on DNA repair mechanisms in cancers with a particular focus on pancreatic cancer that has been very challenging to treat.

Yun Rose Li, M.D., Ph.D. - Role of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Cancer Risk and Treatment Response
Dr. Li’s laboratory applies a combination of computational and molecular biology approaches to better understand the dual role of oxidative stress and inflammation in cancer risk and treatment response.