The Cancer and Developmental Biology Program (CDBP) includes 41 faculty distributed in 14 departments in the Washington University School of Medicine and Danforth campuses. Developmental biologists share the hypothesis that cancer often results from fundamental errors in developmental regulatory mechanisms. CDBP investigators use model organisms to study oncogenes, oncogenic processes, developmental pathways, and to test potential cancer therapies. Over the years, fundamental discoveries in developmental biology have led to the identification of new genes and regulatory mechanisms that are involved in the development of malignancies. Fundamental questions being asked by CDBP faculty include: How do cells in different parts of an embryo come to express very different sets of genes? How are such developmental processes programmed in the genome? What mechanisms regulate maintenance and activation of stem cells? What happens when developmental regulatory mechanisms fail? How do mutations in developmental genes cause cancer? How do developmental regulatory mechanisms prevent cancer? These are a few of the questions that are being answered in detail by the application of the powerful techniques of modern cell and molecular biology to developmental systems. CDBP faculty will continue to use these systems to identify and understand the function of genes that can cause cancer or modulate its outcome. Importantly, several studies within the CDBP have led to pharmacological studies with potential translation to the clinic. CDBP faculty and students meet on a regular basis to discuss research activities. Laboratories studying developmental biology utilize many core facilities within the Siteman Cancer Center. These include the Cancer Center Embryonic Stem Cell Core, Multiplexed Gene Analysis Core, Tissue Procurement Core and High Speed Cell Sorter Core. CDBP members will continue to play a key role in cancer and developmental biology education at Washington University School of Medicine and the Siteman Cancer Center. CDBP is supported by $21,568,623 in funding of which $1,520,881 is in NCI funding and $18,161,968 in other peer reviewed funding. During the current funding period, in the last grant period, members of the CDBP published 640 manuscripts, of which 17.66% represent inter-programmatic and 8.28% resulted from intraprogrammatic collaborations.
A modern view of causes of cancer is that cancer often results from fundamental errors in developmental regulatory mechanisms. CDBP faculty are trying to understand these fundamental regulatory mechanisms in an effort to understand the underiying causes of cancer. These efforts are expected to lead to improved diagnostic, prevention and treatment of cancer.
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