Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Mechanisms and Pathways of Oncogenesis

Aging and Cancer

Photomicrographs of mouse cells in culture.


Program researchers are working to understand the fundamental biological changes that lead to malignant tumors. Areas of particular interest include oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. When mutated or expressed at abnormally-high levels, oncogenes induce a cell to become cancerous and divide uncontrollably. Conversely, tumor suppressor genes reduce the probability that a healthy cell will turn cancerous by dampening cell activity or promoting cell death.

Researchers are additionally studying the signaling, epigenetic and angiogenic factors involved in cancer development.

The following interdisciplinary groups are advancing this work:

Hematologic Malignancies

Hematologic malignancies are cancers of the blood or blood-forming tissues, such as leukemia, Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, AIDS-related malignancies, multiple myeloma, myelodysplasia and myeloproliferative disorders. Among its many aims, this research group is working to identify genetic and cellular influences on oncogene initiation, novel targets for molecular therapies and gene expression profiles that can be used to predict patient response to particular chemotherapeutic agents.

Steven Artandi, MD

Linda Boxer, MD, PhD

Chang-Zheng Chen, PhD

Michael Cleary, MD

Dean Felsher, MD, PhD

Joe Lipsick, MD, PhD

Tumor Suppressors

Tumor suppressors act to control cell division under unfavorable conditions such as DNA damage, a lack of growth factors or defects in the cell division apparatus. Researchers in this group are studying a range of suppressor genes and their associated proteins that directly or indirectly induce tumor suppression or programmed cell death.

Laura Attardi, PhD

Anne Brunet, PhD

Stanley Cohen, MD

Judith Frydman, PhD

Julien Sage, PhD

Intracellular Signaling

The breakdown of signaling within cells has been identified as an important factor in tumor growth and metastasis. This group investigates nuclear transport, signal transduction and gene expression, among other molecular mechanisms that ensure proper cell cycle progression. Researchers are using their understanding of normal signaling processes to determine what goes wrong during oncogenesis and in turn to identify new treatment intervention points along these pathways.

Jeff Axelrod, MD, PhD

Chris Cartwright, MD, PhD

Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD

Alejandro Sweet-Cordero, MD

Albert Wong, MD

Epigenetic Regulation

While genetic mutations play a large role in turning a healthy cell to cancerous, other changes that indirectly influence gene expression have also been found to contribute to this transformation. One area of interest among program researchers is chromatin remodeling, a process occurring in eukaryotes in which specialized protein complexes help regulate gene silencing and activation. The regulatory role of these chromatin remodeling factors is critical to the processes of cell differentiation and aging.

Katrin Chua, MD, PhD

Or Gozani, PhD

Andrew Hoffman, MD

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