City of Hope’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, originally titled the Department of Molecular Genetics, was formed in 1982 under the direction of Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology.
Research interests within the department include an array of biological systems and defects, but the unifying theme of these studies is the regulation of expression of genetic information both at the transcriptional level (where DNA directs the synthesis of RNA) and at the post-transcriptional level (where genes control protein synthesis from newly transcribed RNA).
The Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology includes eight independent laboratories, as well as the Electron Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy Core Facility, which is overseen by Marcia Miller, Ph.D. and Zhuo Li, Ph.D. The Integrative Genomics Core is also within the department. This core under the direction of Dr. Xiwei Wu, M.D., Ph.D., has state of the art instrumentation for next generation sequencing and provides comprehensive bioinformatics support for genomics data analysis.
Investigators within the department actively collaborate with investigators within the medical center, each of whom makes important contributions to clinical investigations at City of Hope. The faculty also collaborates with the academic and scientific communities at large, where many of the faculty’s members have served in significant leadership roles. Department faculty have filled important positions within the National Institutes of Health, The American Cancer Society, and The Army Breast Cancer Research Program.
Department faculty members also teach and mentor graduate students at City of Hope’s Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences, which offers students the opportunity to research genetics, developmental biology, molecular genetics, molecular biochemistry, cell biology, molecular virology, and molecular and cellular immunology.
John J. Rossi, Ph.D. - siRNA, ribozymes, aptamers, and genetic therapies
The foci of this laboratory are the biology and therapeutic application of small RNA, with particular emphasis on small interfering RNA (siRNA) and ribozymes as therapeutic agents for the treatment of HIV infection.
Adam Bailis, Ph.D. – Genome stability, cancer, and aging
This laboratory uses genetic and molecular biological approaches to study how DNA replication and repair are controlled for the maintenance of genome stability, and how cancer and aging result when these controls are subverted.
Mark Boldin, M.D., Ph.D. – Noncoding RNA control of mammalian hematopoiesis, immunity, and cancer
Research in this lab is focused on the biology of noncoding RNA and on the understanding (using molecular, biological, and genetic approaches) of noncoding RNA’s role in the regulation of inflammation and of cancer.
John Burnett, Ph.D. - Gene therapy and genome engineering
With a focus on gene and RNA-based therapies and on targeted genome editing, this laboratory develops advanced therapeutics for cancer, genetic diseases, and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D. – Molecular biology
This lab studies the role of ARID transcription factors in the development and maturation of adipocytes and skeletal muscles, and in carcinogenesis of prostate and endometrium.
Ren-Jang Lin, Ph.D. – RNA splicing and small regulatory RNA
The lab investigates the mechanism of RNA splicing with an emphasis on aberrant splicing factors linked to human diseases, as well as the regulatory and pathogenic role of microRNAs in cancer, using biochemical and genomic approaches.
Linda Malkas, Ph.D. – DNA replication/repair and human disease
The laboratory focuses on understanding the mechanisms mediating human cell DNA replication and repair. It then applies these discoveries to the development of new biomarkers and molecular targets for cancer.
Marcia Miller, Ph.D. – Immunogenetics
This group is focused on understanding how genetic variability inherent in the immune system affects the occurrence of infectious diseases and the likelihood that cancer may arise following infection.