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Visit the Chairman of Molecular Oncology

Over the last decade, remarkable strides have been made in understanding the molecular genetic changes that underlie the initiation and progression of cancer. The goal of the Department of Molecular Oncology is to translate this new molecular information into effective approaches to the management of patient care. The Department of Molecular Oncology provides a supportive environment for a programmatic approach by basic scientists, clinician scientists, and clinicians to understanding the basic mechanisms by which new and previously identified oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes function and, importantly, to translating this information into improved care of cancer patients through genomics, molecular therapeutics, and molecular diagnostics. This provides a strong bench-to-bedside-and-back approach. The research thrust in genomics, molecular therapeutics, and molecular diagnostics is thoroughly integrated with the excellent clinical and clinical research programs already in place at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, providing a resource for the Division of Medicine and the institution. The expected programmatic recruitment of additional young scientists and clinician scientists should aid in ensuring that M. D. Anderson remains at the head of this rapidly emerging field.

The Department of Molecular Oncology consists of a mixture of excellent established scientists as well as a number of talented new recruits. The recent recruitment of Dr. Francois-Xavier Claret to the department increases our ability to identify new targets of therapy and translate the knowledge to patient care. Drs. Jordan Gutterman and Kalpana Mujoo in the Section of Cellular and Molecular Growth Regulation study the function of the P202 family of retinoblastoma-regulating proteins and unique desert legume products that target signal transduction pathways in tumor cells. Most exciting, one of these legume products is effective both in vitro and in a number of animal models of tumor initiation. Drs. Bharat Aggarwal and Bryant Darnay in the Section of Cytokine Research continue to progress in their world-recognized studies of the action of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and in a new direction related to potent growth-suppressing small molecules appropriate for patient management. Dr. Hong-Ji Xu in the Section of Molecular Therapeutics is applying the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene to gene therapy and has initiated studies aimed at identifying new tumor suppressor genes. Drs. Yiling Lu, Xianjun Fang, and Jon Wiener and I in the Section of Molecular Therapeutics concentrate on the molecular changes underlying epithelial ovarian cancer and breast cancer as well as on the regulation of T-lymphocyte activation.

Gordon B. Mills, M.D., Ph.D. Chairman