Cancer Research Program


Cancer Research

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Research Areas

Molecular Epidemiology
Focuses on the contribution of potential genetic and environmental risk factors, identified at the molecular and biochemical level, to the etiology, distribution, and prevention of disease. This approach advances understanding of cancer etiology by incorporating laboratory methods to document the molecular dose, and preclinical effects of carcinogens, as well as factors that increase individual susceptibility to carcinogens. Trainees will conduct research developing or employing biomarkers of genetic susceptibility, carcinogenic exposure and mechanisms, and intermediate endpoints.
Cancer Genetics, Gene Regulation and Molecular Diagnostics
Focuses on the genetic implications of cancer diagnosis, prevention and treatment, and on the implementation of novel genetic and molecular strategies for improving these processes. Training addresses the application of postgenomic/proteomic era technologies and research methodology in such areas as transcriptional regulation, genotype/phenotype based prediction of disease course, genetic association studies and biomarker development. Areas of relevant research will include: gene regulation, pharmacogenomic application of genetic tools to diagnosis, drug design, treatment and prediction of outcomes; psychosocial impact of population screening; and long term implications of presymptomatic genetic testing.
Drug Development & Experimental Therapeutics
Focuses on the development and characterization of novel drugs and therapeutic modalities through to initial application of new drugs in cancer patients. Relevant topic areas include small molecule design and evaluation, development and validation of cell-based and preclinical models, preclinical drug testing, design and interpretation of phase I and II trials, with an emphasis on regulatory, and ethical requirements.
Cellular Regulation and Signal Transduction in Cancer Cells
Involves three focused topic areas in cancer biology: tumor progression and metastasis, drug resistance and metabolism, and regulation of cell growth, proliferation and differentiation. Specific interests include cytoplasmic and nuclear signalling cascades, gene expression and function in malignant cells, stromal-tumor interactions, and metastasis. Training takes advantage of state-of-the-art approaches including genomic and proteomic resources, structure/function analysis, microarray based gene expression profiling, and transgenic and xenograft animal models.
Cancer Care & Service Delivery
Focuses on integrating clinical and health services research with a view to optimizing patient outcomes. Training in this area addresses a number of themes including: access to timely diagnosis and treatment, improving doctor patient communication, making appropriate treatment decisions, correct treatment delivery, and adequate follow up care and patient preferences and education. Training includes clinical epidemiologic, psychology, health services, and health policy research methods, depending on the specific research project.
Outcomes Research and Health Policy Development
Focuses on the measurement, evaluation, and improvement of patient outcomes in delivery of all types of cancer care, across the cancer care continuum. Training opportunities in this area provide quantitative information on the development and implementation of medical management policies, investigate geographic variations in the management and outcome of cancer and explore the structure of the cancer system and its influence on the effectiveness and efficiency of treatment programs. Thesis research in particular in the areas of cancer morbidity and mortality outcomes, in the evaluation of patient symptoms and quality of life, patient experience of and satisfaction with health care, and the social consequences of cancer care will be available.
Drug Metabolism and Pharmacogenetics
Focuses on drug metabolism, gene expression, availability and regulation of drug metabolizing enzymes. Research projects employ in vitro and in vivo systems to explore the metabolism and disposition of endogenous and exogenous compounds, including pharmacologic agents and environmental chemicals.
Molecular Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis
Focuses on molecular aspects of the mechanisms involved in chemical, physical, and viral (biological) carcinogenesis. Training opportunities in this area include studies of genetic and epigenetic pathways regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, and death, carcinogenesis studies in transgenic mice and research on tumor viruses. The effects of environmental and endogenous factors, such as reactive species on tumour growth and DNA damage and the implications of these events with respect to oncogene activation, DNA amplification, gene transposition, and chromosome translocations are research foci.
Immuno-Oncology (I-O) is an innovative area of research that seeks to help the body's own immune system fight cancer. The goal is to address the unmet need for long-term survival in patients with advanced cancers.