Gastrointestinal Cancer Program The Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Program is a team of clinician scientists and translational investigators who work collaboratively towards the goal of reducing the morbidity and mortality of GI cancers. GI cancers account for a substantial portion of cancer related deaths in the US and, in aggregate, are the most common cancer in the US. The most common GI cancers are colorectal cancer (143,000 cases/year), upper GI cancers (17,000 esophageal cancers and 21,000 stomach cancers/year), liver cancer (29,000 cases/year), and pancreatic cancer (44,000 cases/year). Thus, the GI Cancer Program has emphasized esophageal adenocarcinoma, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer. The program has formed multidisciplinary care teams and integrative research teams to provide cutting-edge clinical care that incorporates innovative therapeutic trials into the care plans. Examples of these innovations include stromal directed therapy for pancreatic cancer and state of the art molecular diagnostic assay development. There are 32 members in the program, from two institutions, three schools and 14 different divisions and departments. Research themes of the GI cancer program are focused on: 1) investigation of the molecular features that drive the initiation and progression of upper and lower GI cancers; 2) investigation of the host and tumor factors that govern the behavior of GI cancers; 3) development of novel therapies based on new insights into the behavior of cancers; and 4) development of novel molecular diagnostics for the early detection and treatment of GI cancers. The studies are supported by $3.7M in peer-reviewed funding (direct) of which $2.5M is from the NCI (funding in 2013). Investigators in the GI Cancer Program have published 470 manuscripts, which included 12% intra-programmatic, 44% inter-programmatic, and 17% inter-institutional publications. The high percentage of inter-programmatic publications reflects the broad collaborations of the GI Cancer Program members.
The specific aims of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program are to: 1) Develop novel biomarker assays that can be used for the prevention and/or early detection of colorectal, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers and for risk-stratification for these cancers and liver cancer. 2) Develop novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of pancreatic cancers directed at the tumor microenvironment. 3) Determine the molecular alterations in the major GI cancers (esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, and colon) and use the molecular profiles to inform and effectively treat the cancers.
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