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Molecular Oncology

Molecular Oncology program members study the basic science that is behind our ability to develop safer and more effective cancer treatments.

Program members conduct basic and translational research and commonly use molecular, biological, genetic and pharmacologic tools to perform analysis of pathways intrinsic to cancer therapeutics, with emphasis on angiogenesis, receptor-mediated signaling, apoptosis, epigenetics and transcriptional interference.

The program focuses on: 

  • Determining how epigenetic regulation influences cancer initiation, progression and metastasis
  • Understanding how inherited genetic variation influences predisposition to cancer
  • Determining the causes of genetic instability, encompassing the source and causes of mutations along with how cells try to repair DNA damage to avoid mutations.
  • Identifying, studying and validating unique molecular targets that may not be high priorities for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Studying innovative cancer therapy approaches that affect survival of tumor cells by novel mechanisms
  • Investigating molecular and pharmacologic mechanisms of drug action and drug delivery as well as tumor cells drug resistance.
  • Collaborating with the Drug Discovery Core to screen and identify novel natural small-molecule inhibitors and understanding the mechanisms of these drugs on processes required for the proliferation and survival of cancer cells.
  • Developing new ways to deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly to a tumor.
  • Providing proof of concept for early phase clinical trials for cancer therapies.
  • Understanding signal transduction pathways.
  • Understanding DNA repair mechanisms.
  • Understanding drug resistance
  • Understanding cancer immunology
  • Understanding cell to cell interactions
  • Discovering processes that may prevent cancer from developing in high risk patients.

Dr. Nita Maihle, associate director for basic research, heads the program.

Scientific members

  • Gene Bidwell
  • Sarah Glover
  • Nita Maihle
  • Yin-Yuan Mo
  • Drazen Raucher
  • Jane Reckelhoff
  • Eric Vallender
  • Kristine Willett
  • Yu-Dong Zhou
  • Keli Xu


  • Asok Dasmahapatra
  • Michael Hebert
  • Seongbong Jo
  • Jerry David Monroe
  • Dale Nagle
  • Eddie Perkins
  • Tanya Robinson
  • Damian Romero
  • Richard Summers
  • Rajesh Talluri
  • Randy Watkins
  • Xinchun Zhou