Translational Oncology Research

Translational Oncology - Lab members

Accelerating translational progress with disease-oriented multi-disciplinary teams

The Translational Oncology program is a multi-disciplinary program that aims to improve treatments, outcomes, and quality of life for people with cancer by advancing translational science.

Research themes

Research is organized in two thematic areas:

  1. Validate novel targets: Investigators focus on validation of therapeutic targets based on a biological understanding of intrinsic molecular cancer abnormalities, pathways that lead to cancer invasion and metastases, interactions of cancer cells with the microenvironment, mechanisms of resistance to current therapies, and through preclinical evaluation or development of novel agents targeting these pathways.
  2. Design and implement impactful clinical investigations: Projects focus on the design and implementation of high priority clinical trials with the goal of improving survival and quality of life. They include development of drugs targeting tumor intrinsic molecular abnormalities, the tumor microenvironment, and immunotherapeutics, along with studies designed to understand how best to use these agents, who responds, why resistance occurs and means to circumvent resistance.  

Thematic goals are pursued through several complementary approaches, including:

  • Creation of a permissive, supportive, and collaborative environment designed to encourage and nurture creativity
  • Emphasis of the central role of multidisciplinary, cooperative teams framed around conceptual-based approaches designed to yield transformative advances to the field, a process that is fostered by leaders who have successfully defined field-guiding paradigms
  • Embedding of externally-funded, comprehensive scientific enterprises within the program
  • The formation and support of dedicated mentorship and education-based activities
  • Commitment to high levels of strategic investment by the Knight Cancer Institute strategic recruitment
  • Engagement of Quantitative Oncology, Cancer Biology and Cancer Prevention and Control Program members to facilitate translation of ideas. 

Scientific impact

Recent scientific discoveries include:

  • Translational Oncology investigators had crucial roles in driving changes in FDA-approvals for 9 different agents for indications linked to improved survival in 12 cancers
  • Validation of numerous novel targets for therapy, including targets relevant to mechanisms of resistance to current therapies
  • Evaluating the therapeutic potential of the immune system
  • Therapeutically inhibiting cancer cell motility and invasion
  • Therapeutically modulating the tumor microenvironment

Program leaders

Ray Bergan headshot
Ray Bergan, M.D.
Sara Courtneidge headshot
Sara Courtneidge, Ph.D.