Signal Transduction in Cancer (STIC) Program of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center (RHLCCC) is a basic research program that includes both basic and clinical investigators who are exploring the signaling mechanisms by which normal and transformed cells respond to hormones and growth factors.
The program leader is Debabrata (Debu) Chakravarti, PhD, a highly regarded transcriptional signal transduction biologist with a focus on hormone action and cancer cell signaling. The program co-leader is Curt M. Horvath PhD, an expert in interferon signaling and transcriptional regulation in normal and cancer cells.
This is an interdepartmental program composed of 25 faculty from 8 departments and 2 schools. Between August 2007 and July 2012 there have been 405 cancer-relevant publications from the current program members. Fifty-seven (14.1%) of these publications represent intra-programmatic collaborations and 150 (37%) represent inter-programmatic collaborations. Total current cancer-relevant peer-reviewed funding is $9,296,751 (direct) with $1,850,469 (direct) from NCI and $7,446,283 (direct) from other peer-reviewed sources.
The program goals are focused on how hormones and growth regulatory factors interact with their cognate receptors, mediate downstream signal transduction events resulting in changes to the cell physiology, and how these events are altered in a cancer cell. This is achieved by a coordinated and focused effort of the program investigators toward a unified understanding of the context in which normal cells become neoplastic and the mechanisms that perpetuate the aberrant cell phenotype over time. A basic understanding of the mechanism of abnormal cancer cell signaling can be utilized to specifically target tumors for therapy and enhance our knowledge of the efficacy or resistance to anticancer therapeutics as well as development of new therapeutics. The previous critique of this program noted excellent to outstanding merit, but stressed a need for additional clarification of the cancer relevance of some research projects.
Evolution of cancer-related research in member laboratories, recruitment of new faculty including the current program co-leaders, the inclusion of cancer investigators from other basic science and clinical programs, and the re-evaluation of members whose scientific interests have evolved toward projects not directly relevant to cancer research has now dramatically strengthened the cancer focus of this program while continuing and even surpassing its already established strengths in basic science. Program members are highly interactive and collaborative, both intra- and inter-programmatically, on a spectrum of projects from basic to translational initiatives.
The goals of the Signal Transduction in Cancer Program are to:
- Investigate ligand-receptor interactions in model cells
- Characterize molecular signal transduction mechanisms in neoplastic cells
- Characterize the impact of anticancer therapeutic and chemopreventive agents on signal transduction pathways and derive translational component of the research activities