The Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology (MCO) mission is to enable and apply basic research excellence to contribute to ending cancer significantly. The department’s oncology-driven research focuses on fundamental mechanistic discoveries and their translation to humans. As a basic science department at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, MCO strives to enhance basic research excellence by establishing a robust research group focused on the molecular and cellular aspects of cancer research, particularly in signaling pathways and crosstalk between tumor and tumor microenvironment in tumor initiation, progression and metastasis, and resistance to various therapies. MCO hosts MD Anderson's Functional Genomics Core with the support of the Cancer Center Supporting Grant (CCSG). In addition, MCO faculty are core members of the Cancer Biology and Metastasis Program of CCSG, rated “exceptional” in the last competing renewal.
MCO has ten tenured or tenure-track faculty members, and all have established vibrant research portfolios and productive collaborations with faculty, including clinical colleagues at MD Anderson. MCO faculty are well funded with active R01, R35, DoD grants, SPORE, CPRIT MIRA, and CPRIT IIRA grants, and funding from various other agencies. All faculty members commit to educating and providing high-quality training to cultivate next-generation scientists and actively participate in various educational programs including GSBS Ph.D. programs in Cancer Biology, Genetics & Epigenetics, Immunology, and Biochemistry & Cell Biology. In addition, MCO faculty serve as a mentor in training programs supported by NIH or CPRIT.
Pictured in header: in mouse brain, astrocytes (GFAP: green) are infected with astrocyte-specific Cre adenovirus (Cre: red.) (Nuculear staining: blue)
Disease focuses: Breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, autoimmune & congenital diseases
Research interests: Metastasis (including brain), cancer prevention, DNA-repaired pathways, tumor and immune microenvironment, microbiome, cancer metabolism, targeted therapy (structure based, lncRNA), epigenetics and genetics, inflammatory pathways and apoptosis, immunotherapy.
Dr. Chunru Lin is one of six recipients of the FY21 Faculty Scholar Award, click to see presentation.
Two MCO trainees obtained endowed fellowship in FY21 cycle.
- Arseniy Yuzhalin, PhD, Odyssey Postdoc Fellow (mentor: Dr. Dihua Yu)—2021 Harold C. and Mary L. Dailey Endowment Fellowship ($2,000)
- Chunxiao Liu, PhD, first author in J Hepatology published in April 2021 (mentor: Dr. Dihua Yu)—2021 Harold C. and Mary L. Dailey Endowment Fellowship ($2,000)
Dr. Arseniy Yuzhalin (Odyssey Postdoc Fellow, mentor: Dr. Dihua Yu), PI: FY2021 DoD CDMRP BCRP Breakthrough Award BC210402 -Funding Level 1 “Targeting the Glia-Induced CDK5 Expression That Enforces Antigenic Escape of Brain Metastasis”, impact score 1.8, recommended for funding, $729,000 total cost for 36 months.
Dr. Suet Ying Kwan, instruction in Dr. Beretta’s group, obtained HCC SPORE CEP Award. 09/01/2021-08/31/2021, $50000.
AACR interview: Yuan Zhang (presenter, postdoctoral), Jinyang Wang, Yi Xiao, Xiangliang Yuan, Ping Li, Yimin Duan, Victoria L Seewaldt, Dihua Yu. Title: Boosting immune surveillance by low-dose PI3K inhibitor facilitates early intervention of breast cancer. Interviewed by Alexis Hyams of Oncology Learning Network and the interview was posted in MD Anderson Cancer Center News on April 29, 2021. Learn more.
Lab: Min Sup Song, Ph.D.
Shucheng (Anna) Miao
Mentor: Haoqiang Ying, M.D., Ph.D.
Mentor: Chunru Lin, Ph.D.
Shao-Ping (Emily) Yang
Mentor: Dihua Yu, M.D., Ph.D.
Lab: Chunru Lin, Ph.D./ Liuqing Yang, Ph.D.
Mentor: Dihua Yu, M.D., Ph.D.
Lab: Laura Beretta, Ph.D.
Yongkun Wei, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Oncology
Lab: Haoqiang Ying, M.D, Ph.D.
Mentor: Dihua Yu, M.D., Ph.D.
Lab: Haoqiang Ying, M.D., Ph.D.
Education & Training
In addition to UT Health Graduate Student of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) programs listed below, MCO faculty serve as a mentors in NIH T32 and CPRIT training programs. MCO faculty also host a myriad of high school and undergraduate students through the MD Anderson Summer Research Programs.
The Cancer Biology Program offers a graduate program of study and research leading to a Ph.D. degree from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The program provides training in all aspects of cancer biology, including tumor/host interactions, metastasis and invasion, tumor cell biology and biochemistry, tumor heterogeneity, cell surfaces, cancer genetics, retroviruses, gene regulation and development.
In addition to the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training approaches taught through formal courses, laboratory research experience and exposure to clinical problems, the CBP offers diverse educational activities and services to students, which include: student seminar series, social events to get to know faculty members and other students, new student orientation, which includes setting up mentoring resources participation in scientific conferences at the location and national level.
The Immunology Graduate Program is designed to provide high-quality, comprehensive education and research training in the exciting field of immunology, allowing graduates to successfully pursue careers as independent investigators in academia or industry.
The Genetics & Epigenetics (G&E) Program is a research-oriented PhD and MS program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Research in G&E labs is broadly focused on the fundamental genetic, epigenetic, and genomic mechanisms that control cell growth and differentiation, and that cause cancer and other human diseases.
The Biochemistry and Cell Biology (BCB) Graduate Program is a rigorous, interdisciplinary program that focuses on understanding fundamental biological, biochemical and molecular underpinnings of normal cellular and organ function, and how these mechanisms affect normal and abnormal (disease) biological function.