Center for Environmental and Molecular Carcinogenesis

The Center for Environmental and Molecular Carcinogenesis (CEMC) provides state-of-the-art technologies and an intellectual framework to foster multidisciplinary research into the environmental, genetic and epigenetic factors that influence the initiation and progression of cancer. Environmental factors, which include diet and other lifestyle factors, are known to be involved in the etiology of most cancers. Aims of the CEMC are to define the step-wise molecular and cellular alterations that occur during the process of carcinogenesis; determine how environmental exposures cause key genetic mutations and epigenetic changes that underlie carcinogenesis, and discover the impact of environmental factors on the generation and maintenance of cancer stem cells. The overall goal of this research is to identify new targets and strategies for cancer prevention and treatment. This center fosters collaborations among researchers at the MD Anderson Smithville and Houston campuses.


  • The vision of the CEMC is to make significant contributions to the understanding of the causes of cancer and to develop novel ways to detect, prevent and treat cancer. The Center theme is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of cancer and define how environment, diet and genetics influence susceptibility to developing this disease.

  • CEMC researchers are characterizing the impact of energy balance modulation such as calorie restriction, diet-induced obesity, and physical activity on carcinogenesis caused by physical and chemical environmental carcinogens. Additional research will focus on elucidating the mechanisms by which specific dietary components affect the carcinogenesis process.

  • Funds provided to support the CEMC will establish new state-of-art shared resource facility cores and enhance existing facility cores. A grant program will be developed to support innovative pilot projects involving collaborative research. An enrichment program will provide value-added activities that will foster interaction and collaboration among CEMC members and MD Anderson faculty members.

  • The development of animal models to identify and verify new targets for the prevention of cancer is a critical aspect of the research preformed by Center members. The findings discovered in animal models are translated into preclinical mechanism-driven prevention studies that will ultimately inform epidemiologic studies and lead to clinical trials in humans.

  • The goal of the CEMC is to integrate information gained from the research focus areas to understand how environmental exposures ultimately influence cancer outcomes in human populations.