Tumor Biology Program

Program Co-Leaders: Shelley Berger, PhD and Sandra Ryeom, PhD

The Tumor Biology Program unifies investigators who seek to unravel the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying neoplasia with translation into new diagnostics and therapeutics. The Tumor Biology Program seeks to take an interdisciplinary approach to utilize in vitro and in vivo models (especially genetically engineered mouse models) to elucidate specific aspects of cancer genetics: oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, DNA repair, RNA biology, signal transduction pathways, nuclear hormone receptors, transcriptional factors, cancer cell metabolism, structural biology and the tumor microenvironment. Comprising about 50 members across the schools, departments, centers and institutes of the University of Pennsylvania, the Tumor Biology Program catalyzes joint laboratory meetings, working groups of basic scientists and clinicians, invited speakers in research seminars, journal clubs and special conferences, symposia and retreats. The Program also fosters innovative pilot grants and interdisciplinary grants, the latter to NIH and non-NIH sources. Finally, in 2014, the Tumor Biology Program helped launch the inaugural Basic Science Center of Excellence (BCE) that focuses on cancer cell metabolism in a group of Abramson Cancer Center investigators led by Dr. Ben Stanger.

The Program’s overall scientific aims are to:

  • Elucidate the molecular and cellular basis of carcinogenesis
  • Translate these findings into durable clinical applications

To that end, the Program is organized around three central themes: 1) structural biology of molecules relevant to cancer, 2) the molecular and cellular basis of cancer, and 3) the use of model organisms to study cancer in vivo. Interactive, intra-Programmatic and inter-Programmatic scientific affinity groups foster collaboration within and across themes, including:

  • Cancer cell metabolism (this spawned the new ACC Basic Science Center of Excellence)
  • DNA repair and genomic stability
  • Organ-specific cancers (e.g., esophageal, pancreatic, neuroendocrine, renal, thyroid)
  • RNA biology
  • The tumor microenvironment

Tumor Biology Program Membership