Cancer Biology

Scientific goals

The goal of this program is to discover and develop new molecular mechanisms that control growth, differentiation, survival, clonal adaptation and genetic stability in normal mammalian cells and to define perturbations of these mechanisms that are necessary and sufficient for the development of cancer.

Members of this group share the overarching principle of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to develop novel and less toxic forms of treatment and prevention of malignant diseases. Toward this goal, we must first develop a comprehensive and integrated picture of molecular pathogenesis, a picture that necessarily requires studies of normal, pre-malignant and malignant cells. Members use advanced tools of genetic, cellular and molecular biology to identify interactions between cancer cells and their microenvironment, identify molecular targets for treatment and prevention and identify control points for terminal differentiation, cell cycle arrest, genome protection and apoptosis.

Focus areas

The Cancer Biology program constitutes the foundation of basic science research of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. There are three research focus areas designed to help facilitate collaborative interactions: Signal Transduction, Carcinogenesis/Genetic Instability and Apoptosis. Members fall into one or more of these groups.

  1. Signal Transduction members focus their research on cellular signaling pathways and mechanisms of relevance to the regulation of normal and cancer cell growth including the integrated function of growth factors and their receptors, kinase-mediated signaling phenomena and the regulation of transcription that lies downstream of the aforementioned events.
  2. Carcinogenesis/Genetic Instability members focus their studies on cell cycle check-point control, DNA damage and repair pathways, and the relationship of these events to the development of genetic instability and cancer.
  3. Apoptosis members focus their research on molecular mechanisms that regulate programmed cell death and how this impacts the development of cancer and its role in cancer therapy.

Program leaders

Mathew Thayer, Ph.D.

Rosalie Sears, Ph.D.

Program members

External Knight Cancer Institute Research Members

Researcher Research Area
 Peter Hurlin, Ph.D. Cell & Developmental Biology, Shriners
Jefferey Singer, Ph.D. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Portland State University
Scott Stadler, Ph.D. Molecular & Medical Genetics, Shriners