Christopher J. Gibson, MD

Christopher’s research centers on the earliest steps whereby normal cells transform into abnormal cells with the potential to become cancer. He will focus on better understanding the first steps of the process by which normal blood cells become lymphomas, cancers that are generally thought to arise from blood cells that have already committed to becoming lymphocytes, an important component of the immune system. He hypothesizes, however, that some lymphomas actually arise from earlier hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).

Eric Wang, PhD

Dr. Wang is applying a chemical biology approach to identify kinases and small molecule inhibitors that enhance the immune system’s tumor surveillance capabilities. Therapies that enhance the anti-tumor activity of the immune system have shown tremendous promise in patients; however, only a subset of patients and tumors respond well to such treatments, so identifying complementary strategies to increase the effectiveness of existing immunotherapies is increasingly important.

Geoffrey R. Oxnard, MD

Analysis of tumor DNA has transformed cancer care, allowing researchers to identify unique vulnerabilities within some cancers and treat them with highly effective, yet tolerable, targeted therapies. Moreover, emerging technologies now allow detection and analysis of tumor DNA which is circulating freely within the blood of cancer patients. Such “liquid biopsies” hold promise in their ability to accelerate the delivery of targeted therapies to appropriate cancer patients, while also allowing noninvasive monitoring of treatment outcome. Dr.

Giada Bianchi, MD

Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable cancer of blood cells. It evolves from monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), a pre-malignant condition affecting 3-5% of individuals older than 50 years. MGUS patients progress to MM at a rate of 1% per year and the mechanisms underlying such transformation are unknown. No genetic driver mutations have been identified in MM to date, thus limiting our therapeutic options. Signaling through the transmembrane receptor Roundabout1 (ROBO1) is important in solid tumors, particularly gastrointestinal cancer.

Neil T. Umbreit, PhD

Dr. Umbreit [HHMI Fellow] studies chromosome segregation, the process by which the genetic information on chromosomes is duplicated and the copies are segregated equally into two new cells. Cancer cell proliferation is marked by frequent errors in chromosome segregation, resulting in abnormal genetic content in the progeny. He is investigating one type of chromosome segregation error, called a “chromosome bridge,” a major mechanism through which genetic information can be amplified and/or rearranged to distort gene function in cancer cells.

Mark W. Zimmerman, PhD

Dr. Zimmerman studies neuroblastoma, a tumor of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system. In high-risk neuroblastoma tumors, which account for 15% of all childhood cancer deaths, the chromatin remodeling gene CHD5 is often deleted and its loss is associated with poor prognosis. The gene expression program regulated by CHD5 has strong tumor suppressive effects and has thus emerged as a very attractive target for potential anti-cancer therapeutics. CHD5 expression is also altered in other cancer types, indicating a potential role in many different adult and pediatric malignancies.