- Elucidate the origins, propagation and functions of neoplastic genomic and epigenomic instability. Data generated by contemporary genomics approaches has made it apparent that many cancers carry both genomic and epigenetic alterations that directly contribute to the neoplastic phenotype. Chemo resistance is often driven by epigenetic and genetic drift, which affects genes involved in DNA repair pathways. MOO investigators utilize state of the art technologies with the goal of understanding and targeting molecular mechanisms directly related to these processes.
- Define the role of noncoding RNAs in oncogenesis. In addition to roughly 30,000 protein encoding genes that make up only about 3 percent of the human genome, we now understand that a much larger proportion of our chromosomes express a complex family of noncoding RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs) and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). Dysregulation of these noncoding RNAs, which regulate many molecular mechanisms, is a more recently identified hallmark of many cancer cells. MOO investigators are dedicated to deciphering molecular mechanisms of noncoding RNA dysregulation and their contributions to tumorigenesis, which will lead to identification of novel biomarkers for cancer diagnostics and development of RNA-based therapeutic approaches.
- Study DNA tumor viruses to elucidate the role of epigenetics and non-coding RNA in cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 15 to 20 percent of all cancers have an infectious etiology, most of which are caused by tumors. Like eukaryotic, viral tumorigenesis is a multi-step process that involves host-viral interactions affecting immunity, epigenetics, DNA repair, and both the expression and perturbation of miRNAs and lncRNAs. Studies of DNA tumorviruses by MOO investigators complement aims 1 and 2 of this program by providing easily tractable genetic model systems to study genetic and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in viral tumorigenesis.
By achieving a greater understanding of genomic and epigenetic neoplastic alterations and the role of noncoding RNAs in tumorigenesis, MOO investigators will further accelerate the identification of novel potential therapeutic targets. The long-term goal of these aims is to develop rational bases for combining interventions using these targets in a patient-specific, precision medicine manner, and to translate them into novel therapeutic approaches.
In summary, the MOO program impacts all programs and missions of UFHCC by performing cutting edge basic and translational research to identify and pursue novel therapeutic approaches. MOO members are highly collaborative (Inter and intra-programmatic) and train the next generation of cancer researchers.