There remains a critical need for effective new therapies to treat cancer. The most powerful approach for new therapeutic discovery begins with uncovering the basic mechanisms that drive cancer, identifying the critical components, and targeting them with small molecules that act as drugs for cancer therapy.
The Cancer Biology (CBIO) Program exists to bring together University of Virginia Cancer Center (UVACC) investigators and collectively make discoveries about cancer by identify therapeutic targets and developing agents to interfere with these targets. CBIO has two aims to accomplish its overall goals:
Aim 1: Discover Mechanisms Driving Cancer
This aim is designed to clarify the mechanisms driving cancer. Particularly the contribution of various signaling networks to tumor initiation and metastasis.
Investigators work to understand how cellular signaling support homeostasis in normal tissues and how mutations disturb these networks. These efforts are critical to identifying pathways that represent vulnerabilities in particular cancers. This leads to new targets for validation and development of agents. Research related to this aim centers on the following:
- Biochemistry and cellular consequences of signaling networks
- Systems biology approaches to cell signaling
- Tumor microenvironment
The discovery efforts in the CBIO program are different from those in the Molecular Genetics and Epigenetics (GEN) program. CBIO doesn't focus on chromosome function or epigenetic signaling.
Aim 2: Define Targets and Identify or Develop Small Molecule Modulators of Validated Targets
The goals are to verify individual proteins in tumors as targets through mutagenesis, knockdown, or knockout approaches. Then identify or develop small molecule modulators of validated targets in cancers. Research related to this aim centers on the following:
- Identification and validation of specific targets in cancer
- Target validation and inhibitor development via structural biology
- Chemical biology development of inhibitors
- Research/discovery tool development
The program is led by:
- John Bushweller, PhD, a leader in structure/function and inhibitor development focused on transcription factors
- Dan Gioeli, PhD, a leader in signaling and 3D tumor models
- David Brautigan, PhD, a world leader in phosphatase function and signaling
Learn more about program members and their research interests.