Masonic Cancer Center

A comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute

Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer

About the Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program

AHCMCC2 - Image - 180x282 - Bitterman AHCMCC2 - Image - 180x282 - Anja Bieinksy headshotProgram Leaders:

Anja Bielinsky, Ph.D.
Peter Bitterman, M.D.

The Masonic Cancer Center's Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer (GMOC) research program consists of 34 faculty members at all ranks from 10 different departments within the Medical School on the Minneapolis and Duluth campuses, the School of Dentistry, the College of Science and Engineering, the College of Pharmacy, and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The scientific goals of the program are to define and understand the genetic changes that occur during cancer development, including the specific changes that drive tumor initiation and progression and those that influence cancer susceptibility.

To achieve these goals, GMOC is focused on three research themes:

  • Cancer gene discovery and analysis: genetics of cancer susciptibility and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis, genetic screens for cancer-relevant phenotypes in animal models, functional analysis of cancer genes, and genome-wide analysis of gene expression
  • Genome stability: chromosome segregation; DNA replication, repair and recombination; DNA
  • Cancer gene thearpy and genome modification: building animal and human cell-based cancer models, gene therapy
Program Meeting Schedule
Program News
    Research Program Members
  • AHCMCC2 - Image - Aihara 70x80

    Hideki Aihara, Ph.D.
    Understanding how cancer-causing mutations are introduced by the APOBEC3B cytosine deaminase using x-ray crystallography and elucidating three-dimensional
    structure of the enzyme and enzyme-DNA complexes

    AHCMCC2 - Image - 70x80 Anindya Bagchi

    Anindya Bagchi, Ph.D.
    Complex genetic traits in cancer, including the 1p36 locus, in which he identified a novel tumor suppressor, the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein (CHD5).

    AHCMCC2 - Image - 70x60 Anja Bielinksy

    Anja Bielinsky, Ph.D.
    Mechanism controlling genome stability using budding yeast and human cell lines; mutations that affect strand synthesis and have been directly linked to early-onset lymphoma

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Peter Bitterman

    Peter Bitterman, M.D.
    Translational control mechanisms in cancer; use of genome-wide tools to assess gene expression in cancer and define mechanisms of pathological gene co-regulation at the level of ribosome recruitment to mRNA

    AHCMCC2 - Image - Blekhman_70x80

    Ran Blekhman, Ph.D.
    Understanding the genetic basis of host-bacteria interactions using genomic approaches; the role of the microbial communities in the colonic tumor microenvironment in disease institution and progression.

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Duncan Clarke

    Duncan Clarke, Ph.D.
    Molecular mechanisms responsible for S-phase checkpoint control and the proper segregation of chromosomes during mitosis.

    AHCMCC2 - Image - 70x80 - Robert Cormier

    Robert Cormier, Ph.D.
    Mouse cancer genetics; ransposon mutagenesis in mouse models of GI cancer; mapping and characterization of cancer modifier genes;
    functional studies of genes of the Mom1 locus including Pla2g2a

    MEDSURG2 - Image - Size 1 - Julia Davydova Image

    Julia Davydova, M.D., Ph.D.
    Oncolytic virus therapy for cancer as well as combining this therapy with radiation and chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Levi Downs

    Levi Downs, Jr., M.D.
    Role of human papillomavirus in the growth and spread of cervical cancer and the development of new therapeutic options.

    AHCMCC2 - Image 70x80 - Craig Eckfeldt

    Craig Eckfeldt, M.D., Ph.D.
    Understanding the role of RAS signaling pathways in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) to provide a foundation for the rational development of novel targeted therapies for human AML.

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Perry Hackett

    Perry Hackett, Jr., Ph.D.
    Gene engineering and human gene therapy; use of transposons as vectors for gene therapy as well as tagging and mapping genes in vertebrate chromosomes, focusing on Sleeping Beauty-mediated therapy in humans

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Reuben Harris

    Reuben Harris, Ph.D.
    The role of human cytidine deaminases (AID and the APOBEC family of proteins) in immunology, retrotransposon restriction, and cancer mutation

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Eric Hendrickson

    Eric Hendrickson, Ph.D.
    Use of biochemical and molecular biology techniques to study mammalian double-strand break repair and telomere maintenance in human cells

    Betsy Hirsch, Ph.D.
    Human DNA instability syndromes; chromosomal translocations in leukemia

    AHCMCC2 - Image - Mahmoud Khalifa 70x80

    Mahmoud Khalifa, M.D., Ph.D.
    Clinical and translational research in gynecologic, hepato-biliary and gastrointestinal disease including cancer using immunohistochemical techniques; antibodies and biomarkers as prognosticators of how a tumor may progress and respond to treatment

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Mark Kirstein

    Mark Kirstein, Pharm.D.
    Oncology, clinical pharmacology of anti-cancer agents; cell culture models to evaluate administration schedules for anti-cancer agents with the goal of optimizing chemotherapy administration through assessment of drug pharmacokinetics in human subjects

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Robert Kratzke

    Robert Kratzke, M.D.
    Molecular abnormalities in lung cancer and mesothelioma, focusing primarily on cell cycle regulator genes and their loss of function in cancer; detection of micrometastatic disease in lung cancer and the acquired molecular abnormalities in micrometastases.

    AHCMCC2 - Image - Kuang_Rui - 70x80

    kuang at

    Rui Kuang, Ph.D.
    Computational biology, biomedical informatics and machine learning; developing machine-learning algorithms for problems in cancer genomics, biological network analysis and protein function/structure analysis.

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - David Largaespada

    David Largaespada, Ph.D.
    Cancer genetics, insertional mutagenesis, transposons, Sleeping Beauty, murine leukemia viruses, brain tumors, sarcoma, myeloid leukemia, colorectal cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, neurofibromatosis type 1

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Robert Madoff

    Robert Madoff, M.D.
    Establishing a clinical and research registry for patients at high risk for hereditary cancer and use of a family cancer screening tool for individual risk assessment. Optimizing preoperative imaging of rectal cancer using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to identify residual rectal cancer following neoadjuvant therapy.

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Louis Mansky

    Louis Mansky, Ph.D.
    Cell and molecular biology of HIV and HTLV; antiviral drug discovery and development; antiviral drug resistance; HIV genetic variation, evolution and population genetics; viral quasispecies; virus assembly; evolution of emerging viruses

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Scott McIvor

    Scott McIvor, Ph.D.
    Use of recombinant retroviral and lentiviral vectors for gene transfer into hematopoietic stem cells to treat cancer and inherited disorders; introduction of drug-resistance genes into normal hematopoietic cells to protect against toxic side effects of cancer chemotherapy; use of adeno-associated virus for treatment of storage diseases and as a vector for gene transfer into the central nervous system for treatment of neurological disorders; adaptation of a novel vertebrate transposon Sleeping Beauty to viral and non-viral delivery systems for gene therapy.

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Jaime Modiano

    Jaime Modiano, V.M.D., Ph.D.
    Breed specific genetic effects on cancer susceptibility in dogs as well as the genetic basis of specific cancers in dogs using comparative oncology approaches


    Branden Moriarity, Ph.D.
    Genetic origins of the development and progression of childhood cancers including sarcomas, leukemia, and brain tumors; utilizing novel technologies to more accurately model cancer to test new treatments and validate mechanisms of disease development and progression such as Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases and the CRISPR/Cas9 system. 

    AHCMCC2 - Image - Rebecca Morris70x80

    Rebecca Morris, Ph.D.
    Stem cells and non-melanoma skin cancer. 

    AHCMCC2 - Image - 70x80 Chad Myers

    Chad Myers, Ph.D.
    Toxicological studies to identify specific anti-cancer drug targets

    AHCMCC2 - Image - Zohar Sachs 70x80

    Zohar Sachs, M.D., Ph.D.
    Dependence of leukemic cells on oncogenic signaling. Using a model of AML driven by Mll/AF9 and NRAS, we integrate signaling data with gene expression data to study the signals critical for leukemia maintenance and how to pharmacologically inhibit these signals for therapeutic effect.

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Naoko Shima

    Naoko Shima, Ph.D.
    Development of new approaches in viral and transposon-mediated gene transfer and the use of retroviral cDNA libraries for genetic screens cultured cells.

    AHCMCC2 - Image - 70x80  Alexandra Sobeck

    Alexandra Sobeck, Ph.D.
    The Fanconi anemia pathway, a cancer predisposition syndrome that leads to genome instability and results in bone marrow failure using biochemistry in the Xenopus laevis models system and human cells in tissue culture

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Timothy Starr

    Timothy Starr, Ph.D.
    Genetic basis of ovarian, lung, and colon cancer with the goal of developing individualized, targeted therapies

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Clifford Steer

    Clifford Steer, M.D.
    Gene transfer/gene therapy for the liver; role of microRNAs in colon cancer

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Subbaya Sumbramanian

    Subbaya Subramanian, Ph.D.
    MicroRNA mediated gene regulation in human sarcomas; gene expression profiles; developing novel diagnostic markers and identification of therapeutic targets in sarcomas and other cancers

    AHCWMHLTH2-Image-70x80-Bharat Thyagarajan


    Bharat Thyagarajan, M.D., Ph.D.
    Genetic susceptibility to breast cancer; the role of DNA repair pathways in determining outcomes after chemotherapy and hematopoietic cell transplants

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Brian Van Ness

    Brian Van Ness, Ph.D.
    Genetics of multiple myeloma; role of specific mutations (RAS, Rb, and p530 in the biology of myeloma; therapeutic responses and changes in gene expression profiles; utilization of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis to identify genetic associations with myeloma risk and response to therapy

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Christine Wendt

    Christine Wendt, M.D.
    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); identification of biomarkers of chronic allograft rejection and causal pathways in COPD leading to lung cancer; co-director of Lung Volume Reduction Surgery Program and participant in NIH COPD Clinical Research Network

    AHCMCC - Image - 70x80 - Masato Yamamoto

    Masato Yamamoto, M.D., Ph.D.
    Cancer gene therapy with Adenovirus Vector; conditionally replicative adenovirus for the treatment of cancer; non-invasive in vivo molecular imaging; gene therapy of gastrointestinal diseases, cancers of pancreas, esophagus, prostate, breast, and multiple myeloma

    AHCMCC2 Image 60x70 Jeongsik Yong

    Jeongsik Yong, Ph.D.
    Noncoding RNAs and RNA binding proteins in cancer

    Lin Zhang, Ph.D.
    Statistical ares of variable selection, graphical modeling, factor analysis and function data analysis with application to genomics studies of different cancers, including bladder cancer, breast cancer, and multiple myeloma

  • ©2014 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer
  • Last modified on November 23, 2015