Basic research in cancer biology is paramount to unraveling and understanding the mechanisms of cancer development and progression. Novel insights obtained from basic research investigations are critical for generating new ideas and strategies for cancer prevention, diagnosis and therapy. Members of the Cancer Biology Program (CB) investigate the fundamental cellular, molecular, genetic, biochemical, and immunological mechanisms of cancer biology and develop molecular tools and experimental therapeutics that modulate them. The program has 31 actively participating members from the University of Hawaii's Cancer Center, School of Medicine, and College of Pharmacy as well as the Queen's Medical Center. Of these 25 have joined since the previous review. CB members currently receive a combined $5.63M annually in direct funding, including $3.76M from the NCI and $1.79M in other NIH support. Over the past five years, they have authored a total of 193 cancer-related publications, of which 21% originated from intraprogrammatic, 12% from inter-programmatic, and 5% from inter/intra-programmatic collaborations. The primary goal of the CB is to foster translational research through multi-disciplinary collaborations where investigations of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cancer development and progression lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets and potential strategies for cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, drug discovery and treatment. The major goals of the program are (1) to generate novel mechanistic insight into the processes that drive tumor initiation, progression, and invasion (Cancer Mechanisms);(2) to target these mechanisms with new small molecules and natural products using cellular and biochemical assays (Drug Discovery);(3) to translate these results into more effective preventive, early detection, and therapeutic modalities (Diagnostics &Intervention). Members of the program have complementary expertise in cell and molecular biology (signal transduction, membrane biophysics, immunobiology and inflammation, and genetics), virology, chemical biology (biochemistry, synthetic chemistry, natural products), pathology and surgery. In addition, the program also includes focus groups dedicated to the investigation of specific cancers. These focus groups provide a framework to translate novel research findings into the development of targeted clinical interventions or innovative diagnostic approaches in these cancers.

Public Health Relevance

The Cancer Biology Program studies the basic mechanisms that contribute to the initiation, progression, and spread of cancer, and targets these mechanisms with novel drugs. Over the past decade this program has advanced our understanding of cancer etiology, developed novel therapeutic strategies through drug discovery, and contributed to improvements in cancer treatment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Center Core Grants (P30)
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Subcommittee G - Education (NCI)
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University of Hawaii
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Fagan, Pebbles; Pokhrel, Pallav; Herzog, Thaddeus A et al. (2016) Nicotine Metabolism in Young Adult Daily Menthol and Nonmenthol Smokers. Nicotine Tob Res 18:437-46
Paladino, David; Yue, Peibin; Furuya, Hideki et al. (2016) A novel nuclear Src and p300 signaling axis controls migratory and invasive behavior in pancreatic cancer. Oncotarget 7:7253-67
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