Our current understanding of human cancers highlights the importance of aberrant developmental programs in cancer pathogenesis. The Development and Cancer Scientific Program (DCSP) brings together invesfigators in the related fields of cancer biology, stem cell biology and developmental biology as a means of exploiting and focusing upon cancer the diverse strengths at UT Southwestern (UTSW) in developmental biology. The three scientific goals of the program are to: 1) Define the interactions between malignant tumor cells and their local environment: Clinicians have long appreciated that particular tumors metastasize to particular sites, suggesfing that tumor cells depend upon specific interactions with normal tissues for their establishment, growth and survival. In addition, epidemiological evidence suggests that other host factors such as obesity are linked with increased cancer risk, through unknown mechanisms. Emerging discoveries are beginning to highlight interacfions between cancer cells and normal host tissues, and a major goal of the DCSP is to define these host-tumor cell interactions at a molecular level with the goal of developing novel and more effective treatments. Program interest is focused in three areas: adiposity and breast cancer, host-tumor interacfion in gliomagenesis and neurofibromatosis, and targefing tumor vasculature. 2) Reveal the molecular mechanisms that confer upon stem cells and cancer stem cells their unique and remarkable properties of self-renewal and pluripotency: There is growing expertise in stem cell biology at UTSW that is harnessed within the program to define the genefic, epigenefic and cell-signaling mechanisms that confer upon stem cells and cancer stem cells their essential characterisfics of pluripotency and capacity for self-renewal. Within the broader research topics represented in the Scientific Programs, the particular strength of the DCSP is its focus on study in living animals, including mouse models. 3) Enhance scientific interactions between clinical investigators and basic scientists to stimulate cancer-focused basic research and clinical translation of research discoveries: Insights revealed by basic research drive new approaches towards cancer treatment, and clinical observations and materials provide opportunifies for important discoveries that will improve treatment of cancer. Physician-scientists within the DCSP are leading projects that focus upon in vivo models of cancer, and choose their research questions with first-hand knowledge of clinical relevance. The Cancer Center leadership and the DCSP lower the acfivation energy of productive interacfion between clinical invesfigators and basic scientists to generate cancer-focused discoveries.

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 Texas Sw Medical Center Dallas
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