Cancer Genetics

Cancer genetics and epigenetics are central to the research of Drs. Christopher Bradfield, Mark BurkhardJames ShullAussie Suzuki, Beth WeaverWei Xu, and Jing Zhang. The scientific basis of these studies arises from the fact that cancer is a genetic disease encompassing both germline and somatic genetics. Current areas of research include:

  • Mouse and rat models to study basic and translational aspects of colon cancer. These efforts include biomarker development as well as advanced imaging applications. A recent advance is an Apc-mutant rat model that enhances the modeling of familial human colon cancer.
  • Mouse models to identify genes predisposing individuals to the risk of developing liver and pancreatic cancer. The liver work focuses on the interaction of genetics and hormonal exposure in the etiology of hepatic carcinoma.
  • Rat models to study the etiology and prevention of breast cancer. These studies integrate genetic studies in the rat with studies of human DNA from epidemiology-linked breast cancer case-control studies. For example, studies on the Rat Mcs5a quantitative trait locus led to the identification of an orthologous human locus associated with breast cancer risk.
  • Mouse models to study environmental xenobiotics.
  • Epigenetic transcriptional control of breast cancer. This work specifically focuses on histone H3 methylation by CARM1 and activation of the estrogen receptor.
  • Mouse models for hematopoietic cancers and the study of genetic changes that alter the balance in growth versus differentiation properties o fhematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their progeny lead to these cancers.
  • State of the art microscopy methods and drug studies to define molecular signals and cellular machinery that determine accurate division of cellular chromosomes during mitosis and consequences of mistakes in these processes leading to aneuploidy and its effect on cancer.
  • Defining the role of epigenetic dysregulation in cancer.