The Gene Expression and Regulation Program (GER) is comprised of eight laboratories that work together in the areas of gene transcription and chromatin biology. The overarching goals of the Program are to unravel how deregulated gene expression drives malignant transformation and disease progression, and to provide novel, tractable targets for cancer therapy. The Program brings together complementary expertise of research excellence around three general flagship themes: Transcriptional regulation, epigenetics, and chromosome organization (i). Structural analysis and chemical biology (ii); and RNA-mediated gene regulation and microRNA metabolism (iii). Over the last budget cycle, GER investigators have made impressive gains in advancing their scientific pursuits. This is reflected in the publication of 157 cancer related peer-reviewed articles in the top-tier literature, an increase in the number of intra- and interprogrammatic collaborative publications from 10% in 2008 to 23% in 2012, and a doubling of National Cancer Institute (NCI) programmatic funding from $0.85 million in 2008 to $1.8 million in 2012. Together with other cancer-related peer-reviewed awards totaling $2 million, and non-peer-reviewed support of $1.3 million, the total funding base of the GER Program now stands at 29 individual awards and $5.2 million (direct costs). Overall, the Program has continued to function as a hub for transdisciplinary collaboration, graduate education, and inter-programmatic interaction within the Cancer Center, as well as neighboring academic Institutions. The home of two T32 training grants and a pivotal contributor to three collaborative P01 grants, the GER Program has tangibly advanced the long-term goals of the Cancer Center connecting basic understanding of cancer gene expression to mechanistic pathways of metastasis, chromosomal instability and developmental therapeutics.
Changes in transcriptional control of gene expression function as pivotal drivers of virtually every tumor trait, but how these processes are dynamically regulated in the context of the human disease is still poorly understood. Unraveling these pathways using a complement of interdisciplinary experimental approaches as pursued by the GER Program will elucidate basic mechanistic underpinnings of malignant transformation and open new avenues for molecular, targeted therapeutics.
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