Tumor Biology Program

Program Leader: Shelley Berger, PhD 

The Tumor Biology Program is one of two basic science Research Programs of the Abramson Cancer Center. This Program aims to catalyze research to advance an understanding of mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis and to identify pathways that will enable novel preventive, diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic approaches to cancer. Since its inception in the early 1970s, the Tumor Biology Program has continued to respond to emerging areas and advances in cancer research. The Program is currently organized around three central Aims:

  • Elucidate the molecular and cellular basis underlying cancer
  • Understand the epigenetics of cancer
  • Investigate the tumor microenvironment and metastatic progression

Members of Tumor Biology are highly interactive, collaborating intra-Programmatically across scientific topics relevant to each Aim, including genome integrity, cell signaling, metabolism, and viral pathways, with an eye on cancers of highest burden or health disparity in our catchment area. Ground-breaking discoveries in Tumor Biology uncovered novel mechanisms of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, transcriptional control of cancer drug sensitivity, epigenetic regulation of inflammation, novel mechanisms of androgen-resistance in prostate cancer, and immune evasion by viral mimicry. New targets were translated to the clinic in collaboration with other Programs for early detection and treatment. The Tumor Biology Program is led by Shelley Berger, PhD who catalyzes impactful intra- and inter-Programmatic collaborations by a variety of innovative methods. Leaders are instrumental in recruiting new members, mentoring junior faculty, stimulating interactions and meetings among faculty members, and organizing conferences and symposia. Tumor Biology Program members play key roles in the training and mentorship of high school students, PhD students, MD/PhD students, and MD or PhD postdoctoral fellows in cancer-related research through their leadership roles in the University of Pennsylvania Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS), MD/PhD program (MSTP) and NIH T32 training grants. The continued success of the Tumor Biology Program is evidenced by the exceptional scientific progress of its members, demonstrated through high-impact publications with multi-institutional, inter- and intra-Programmatic collaborations, offering key insights into the biology of cancer. 

Tumor Biology Program Membership