? TUMOR BIOLOGY PROGRAM Genetic mutations and epigenetic modifications alter protein signaling networks and metabolites to promote cancer. Basic research connecting signaling or metabolism to tumor biology has laid the foundation for recent targeted therapies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and CAR-T cell therapy, and will no doubt continue to provide novel avenues for therapeutic development in the future. Given this understanding, the Tumor Biology Program (TB) provides a critical hub for basic research in the areas of cancer signaling and metabolism in the Duke Cancer Institute (DCI). The TB aims to collectively foster current and seed future basic research in these two research areas in order to promote foundational advancements in cancer biology. TB supports this theme through three aims: 1) foster high-impact, basic research in cancer signaling and metabolism; 2) promote transdisciplinary research in these fields; and 3) train the next generation of basic cancer researchers.
These aims are achieved through a seminar series, weekly transdisciplinary work-in-progress meetings, an annual transdisciplinary joint retreat, pilot grants, development of multi-PI grants, as well as other targeted research and training initiatives. The program is comprised of 29 primary members and 26 secondary members from 10 different departments and 3 schools within Duke University. Primary members anchor high-impact, basic research and training the two research focus areas in cancer signaling and metabolism, and were chosen given their research expertise in these areas and their accomplishments, with one quarter of being fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences, a quarter are active or alum HHMI investigators, one is a National Academy member and another a Nobel laureate. Secondary members provide key connections to other programs, centers, departments, and institutes, to promote transdisciplinary research in cancer signaling and metabolism. Total direct funding for primary program members is $6.4M, of which $5.4M is peer reviewed, including $2.7M from the NCI. From 2014-2018, program members published 465 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 15% were intra- programmatic collaborations and 38% were inter-programmatic collaborations, reflecting TB efforts to promote transdisciplinary research in cancer signaling and metabolism. Over the last renewal period one third of all publications appeared in high-impact journals reflecting TB efforts to promote high-impact, basic research in cancer signaling and metabolism. Additionally, the efforts of TB to build a cancer metabolism research base has led to a tripling in the number of papers in this research area. Finally, primary members have trained 125 students and 158 fellows over the last decade with 96% and 90%, respectively, continuing on to research or research-related careers, reflecting TB efforts to train the next generation of basic cancer researchers.
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