About the Program

The Translational Oncology Program represents a major hub for cancer research and a tremendous opportunity to facilitate new discoveries for patients. Identifying and understanding the molecular pathways at work in cancer, and targeting treatments to these pathways, represents the future of cancer care. Through the Translational Oncology Program we will lead the way in discovering tomorrow's cancer treatments.
~~Max S. Wicha, M.D., director emeritus of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. In this year alone, roughly 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer - half of these new cases are in people under the age of 65 and still in the prime of their lives.

While remarkable advancements have been made in basic research to characterize and understand the molecular underpinnings that drive cancer and in uncovering potential novel targeted therapies, there is still much more work ahead.

The University of Michigan is already one of the leading institutions in the world in a number of areas of basic cancer research and drug discovery. Now, the U-M Translational Oncology Program (TOP), is giving investigators the unique opportunity to translate these important discoveries into clinical advancements that will significantly improve the way cancer is diagnosed and treated.

image of Drs. Simeone and Nagrath
Diane Simeone, M.D. (left) confers with Sunitha Nagrath, PhD.

Cancers currently being studied

TOP investigators are presently exploring cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, head and neck, colon, prostate and thyroid, as well as childhood cancers.

Attracting the best and the brightest minds in oncology

TOP has quickly engaged the interest of the best and brightest CSC researchers to the NCRC, including its director, Diane Simeone, MD.

Dr. Simeone, who was selected as the TOP program director in June of 2012, has been lauded by her colleagues as both a dedicated pancreatic surgeon and an internationally recognized biomedical researcher.

"Diane is an inspirational biomedical researcher with an unparalleled record of accomplishment in the area of pancreatic cancer biology, and is one of our leading cancer surgeons," said Colin Duckett, PhD, director of NCRC's Program Development. "We're thrilled that she has accepted this vital leadership role at NCRC."

Dr. Simeone leads a diverse program with a large number of research laboratories whose areas of expertise range from basic molecular and cellular biological processes, novel preclinical models of cancer, the identification of new drugs that target cellular processes unique to the cancer cell and the translation of these discoveries into the clinic.

image of Drs. Day and Neamati
Nouri Neamati, PhD. (left) with Mark Day, PhD.

"The focus of the Translational Oncology program at NCRC will be singular - how to treat cancer better," said Dr. Simeone. "To make this happen we will adopt a comprehensive approach - on one hand researching the disease from different angles by drawing on the vast and world class expertise of our basic scientists, clinicians and experimental therapeutics researchers, and on the other, focusing on drug development and commercialization processes in order to reach patients faster. I am tremendously excited to develop this vision at NCRC."

By working together and leveraging their extensive scientific resources, TOP scientists can make progress much more rapidly than would be possible by working alone. It is hoped this collaborative approach will revolutionize cancer treatments by targeting and destroying the cells responsible for disease recurrence and metastasis.

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