National Functional Genomics Center at the UMCCC
Underlying the aims of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center NFCG is the belief that future advances in the treatment
of cancer will be derived from a better understanding of specific molecular and genetic alterations characteristic
of an individual patient's cancer. To achieve these aims, three main projects have been developed that will study
the molecular characterization and regulation of cancer stem cells in the tumor microenvironment, develop unique
animal models to achieve this result and explore the use of various small molecule inhibitors and regulatory genes
to enhance tumor cell apoptosis and increase the effectiveness of various treatment regimes.
Dr. Eric FearonDr. Fearon's project will generate numerous unique transgenic and knockout mouse models to identify proximate genetic factors and their functional contribution to the development of a number of major cancer types. These robust mouse models can be used to assess the biological relevance of certain recurrent gene lesions in cancer pathogenesis. In addition to providing a critical functional test of certain gene lesions in cancer development, the models will be useful for stimulating further discoveries of novel molecular lesions in human cancer development and for exploring key issues pertaining to cancer stem cells.
Dr. Arul ChinnaiyanDr. Chinnaiyan's laboratory will develop powerful bioinformatic approaches to decipher the molecular heterogeneity of cancer. These approaches include the expansion of oncomine, a compendium of cancer gene expression data and the development of techniques for the meta analysis of complex microarray data and its expansion into HIMAP which links proteomic and genetic databases. In addition, his laboratory will develop COPA analysis tools that allows for the identification of chromosomal rearrangements that play a role in malignancy.
Dr. Max WichaDr. Wicha's laboratory has been instrumental in the recognition that cancer stem cells are the key cellular component driving tumorigenesis, metastasis and treatment resistance. Dr. Wicha's laboratory will further define the pathways regulating breast cancer stem cell self-renewal and survival utilizing novel integrative oncogenomics approaches, including HiMAP, to elucidate the interacting pathways that regulate cancer stem cells. This comprehensive approach utilizing genetics and bioinformatics can best elucidate the mechanisms driving tumorigenesis.
The aims of these three projects are far-reaching, yet the comprehensive research of the NFGC will involve the work of many other investigators at the University of Michigan studying cancer progression and potential therapeutics. The NFGC will support many shared resource facilities through the purchase of equipment and software and by providing salary support for key scientific staff. Research projects will be the cornerstone of the NFGC and multiple pilot projects devoted to discovery of molecular signatures of cancer will be funded (included those investigating colon, lung, pancreas, prostate and ovarian cancer).