Molecular & Cellular Oncology
Dihua Yu, M.D., Ph.D.
Department Chair ad interim
The mission of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology (MCO) is to enable and apply basic research excellence to significantly contribute to ending cancer. 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 strong 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. The Department’s research interests include, but are not limited to: cancer cell signaling, metabolism, RNA biology, genetics and epigenetics, DNA damage and repairs, and structural biology. MCO hosts MD Anderson's Functional Genomics Core with the support of the Cancer Center Supporting Grant (CCSG).
The major research focus of Molecular and Cellular Oncology is dissecting novel molecular and cellular mechanism and identifying molecular determinants of various types of cancers and cancer metastasis, including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, gastrointestinal (GI) cancers (liver, esophageal, colorectal) and other solid tumors. Our faculty members also perform in depth studies to delineate traditional and non-canonical Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-mediated signaling pathways, dysregulation of epigenetic events, ribonucleic acid (RNA) biology (e.g., long noncoding RNAs and microRNA (miRNAs)), and metabolic dysregulations in cancer cells.
Our research efforts include:
- studying crosstalk of cancer intrinsic factor with tumor microenvironment (TME) extrinsic factors in conferring resistance to targeted-and immuno-therapies.
- discovering cancer intrinsic factor with TME extrinsic factors (for example, exosomes) involved in cancer metastasis (particularly in brain metastasis)
- integrating structures and cell imaging approaches to study cancer epigenetics, enzymes in metabolism, inhibitors targeting deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage pathways and double stranded DNA (dsDNA) repair.
- developing novel combinatorial cancer therapeutic strategies, including conventional-, targeted-, and immuno-therapies.
The Department has ten tenured or tenure-track faculty members and all have a vibrant research portfolio and established 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 educate and provide high quality training to cultivate next generation scientists and actively participate in various educational programs including the Cancer Biology Program, Genetics & Epigenetics Program of GSBS, NIH T32 and CPRIT training programs. MCO faculty are core members of the Cancer Biology and Metastasis Program of CCSG.
Pictured in header: in mouse brain, astrocytes (GFAP: green) are infected with astrocyte-specific Cre adenovirus (Cre: red.) (Nuculear staining: blue)
Cancer Biology Program
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
More information about graduate programs and admission:
Molecular and Cellular Oncology is located in the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building
Common area on each floor
Lunch room on each floor
Office areas include quiet room
Large conference area
Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 1051
Houston, TX 77030