Cancer Cell Biology Program

The Cancer Cell Biology research program seeks to enable highly innovative discoveries on the molecular and cellular basis of cancer, and to facilitate rapid translation of these findings to the clinic.

Members of this program are grouped into three thematic areas:

  • Cell signaling
  • Autophagy and tumor cell metabolism
  • Tumor microenvironment, inflammation and metastasis

Program members undertake a highly integrative and multidisciplinary approach to:

  • Study how dysregulation of cell-cell interactions, signal transduction, and the tumor microenvironment contribute to cancer development and progression;
  • Understand the regulation of tumor cell metabolism through both cancer cell-intrinsic pathways and the tumor metabolic microenvironment, and how dysfunction in autophagy and cell metabolism contribute to cancer development and progression;
  • Discover novel oncogenes, tumor suppressors, oncomirs, and tumor suppressing microRNAs in the control of cell proliferation, evasion of apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis;
  • Examine the role of hormone receptors and their co-regulators in gene regulation, progenitor cell function, organogenesis and cancer development; and
  • Facilitate translation of these findings to new therapeutics, treatment regimens, and diagnostics.
Program Co-Leaders:
Jun-Lin Guan, PhD, Dr. Guan is an internationally recognized cancer scientist, joining UC in 2014. Dr. Guan’s lab has made major contributions in the identification of new signaling molecules and pathways in cell migration, angiogenesis and metastasis; and role of autophagy in breast cancer and other developmental and disease processes.
John Morris, MD, is the Director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program which provides new cancer treatment options in phase -1 clinical trials. He is also Co-Director of the Comprehensive Lung Cancer Center and Associate Director for Translational Research at the UC Cancer Institute. Dr. Morris is investigating a lung cancer vaccine as well as stem cell and other innovative therapies for treatment of lung cancer.