Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Research News

The Stanford Cancer Center joins the American Association for Cancer Research in acknowledging May as National Cancer Research Month, declared by the United States Congress in 2007, in recognition of the AACR and its focus on high-quality, innovative cancer research.

The Stanford Cancer Center is known for its advanced clinical care, scientific research and technological inventions. Stanford’s unique strengths in basic science, biostatistics, bioengineering and technology have facilitated the development of new approaches to cancer etiology, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Stanford scientists and physicians have led the way in developing many of the state-of-the-art radiology techniques and antibody and biologic therapies that are used to treat cancers. Many of our surgeons have pioneered techniques that are widely used today.

The Cancer Center’s research efforts are focused on improving the diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for cancer patients, understanding cancer etiologies among diverse populations and reducing the incidence of cancer. Over 310 faculty participate in basic, translational and clinical research. Translational medicine is the cornerstone of Stanford’s cancer treatment programs, with more than 250 active clinical trials under way.

Stanford’s contributions to cancer research:

•Development of new microfluidic technologies that enable DNA sequencing, gene-expression analysis and epigenetic profiling at the level of one or a few cells. 

•Development and application of flow cytometric techniques that allow the profiling of proteomic alterations at the single-cell level and advanced cell sorting based on 17-color laser capabilities.

•Innovation in bioinformatics that has vastly improved data-mining capabilities.

•Application of nanotechnology to diagnostics in molecular imaging and to therapeutics in drug delivery.

 •Protein bioengineering that allows new approaches to the development of imaging agents and therapeutics.

• Development of new technologies for detecting circulating tumor cells (e.g., the Magsweeper and the Magnetic Sifter) for use in clinical trials.

Additional major strengths of the Stanford Cancer Center lie in the areas of immunology, imaging, genetics and genomics and stem cell biology. Each of these disciplines informs the others and provides platforms on which to base collaborative investigations and disease-based programs.


First use of gene expression profiling to distinguish cancer sub-types (

First use of RNAi to switch off genes in mice (

First use of gene expression profiling to predict cancer outcomes (

Discovery that Wnt genes, first discovered as critical in developmental pathways, are also important regulators of stem cell development (

Development of a new treatment for metastatic colorectal cancers using an inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor in combination with chemotherapy, the IFOX regimen (

Discoveries related to the role of the Hedgehog pathway in human cancers and applications of hedgehog inhibitors in the therapy for basal cell carcinomas (

Development of tetramer technology, which permits physicians to monitor patients’ immune responses to cancer vaccines as well as to study endogenous T cell responses to cancer (

Identification of cancer stem cells and pathways relevant to stem cell self-renewal in solid tumors and leukemia (

Posted 04/23/10

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