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Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology

Molecular and Cellular Oncology’s mission is to enhance basic research excellence by establishing a strong research group focused on the molecular and cellular aspects of cancer research, particularly in molecular and cellular signaling pathways for tumor progression and metastasis; to enhance translational research for development of targeted cancer therapies; to enhance educational programs for next generation scientists; and to enhance collaboration with other MD Anderson department and thematic programs and interactions with other institutions locally, nationally and internationally; to facilitate MD Anderson cancer related laboratory science research to rise to the highest level in the nation.

There are currently 13 tenured or tenure-track faculty members. Overall, the department is well funded, with multiple peer-reviewed grants -- including grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense -- and sponsored-research agreements with industry. The department receives approximately $8 million in extramural funding per year.

A number of faculty members in the department are interested in breast cancer research, and most have received peer-reviewed breast cancer-related extramural research funding. Research interests include growth factor receptors, oncoproteins, tumor suppressors, cytokines and cell survival and apoptosis factors. Specific molecules currently under investigation include the epidermal growth factor receptor family, estrogen receptor, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-2, Akt, Pak1, nuclear factor-kappa B, p16, p27Kip1, p57Kip2, p21Cip1, Rb, p53, BRCA2 and p202. In addition, the development and biology of the mammary gland tumors are being actively investigated in studies using transgenic and knockout mouse models. Other cancers being studied include melanoma, lung, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers.

Considerable collaboration occurs among the faculty members in most areas of study. One such area is gene therapy. New gene therapy strategies for cancer treatment are being investigated in the development of tumor-specific targeting, expression and delivery systems and the identification of two novel, effective therapeutic genes.

Faculty members are very active in training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Currently, 40 doctoral students and 41 postdoctoral fellows are being trained. Research discoveries within the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology will help us understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of cancer progression and ultimately increase our ability to detect, monitor and treat human cancer.

Mien-Chie Hung, Ph.D.
Vice President for Basic Research
Chairman, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
Director of Center for Biological Pathways
Director of Breast Cancer Basic Research Program
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Professor of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
Professor of Surgical Oncology (joint appointment)
Ruth Legett Jones Distinguished Chair

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