Molecular Genetics and Epigenetics
The accumulation of heritable genetic and epigenetic changes that result in loss of function of tumor suppressors and/or inappropriate activation of proto-oncogenes is a hallmark of cancer. The goals of the Molecular Genetics and Epigenetics Program (GEN) are to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie these defects and to uncover new targets for therapy, diagnosis, prognosis, and prevention. The Program capitalizes on the large number of outstanding investigators at UVA with research expertise in chromatin architecture, transcription, replication, mutation, repair, and cellular checkpoints in cancer. The Members are organized around four main themes:
- Chromosome function, malfunction, and cellular checkpoints
- Epigenetics and cancer
- Signaling and gene expression in cancer
- Bioinformatics: mining information from human genomes.
The Program is led by P. Todd Stukenberg, PhD, a leader in the replication and cell cycle fields who has focused more recently on the role of microRNAs in tumorigenesis; and Jim Larner, MD, an expert in neuro-oncology and DNA damage-sensing pathways. Through its activities, GEN provides a formal mechanism for fostering intellectual exchange and collaboration among its Members. Many of the new Members bring considerable expertise in the bioinformatics of microarray and deep-sequencing data, large-scale genomic rearrangements (including aneuploidy), and the molecular effects of radiation and cellular responses to radiation. In addition, GEN has added a significant cohort of translational and clinical investigators whose research focus is on particular tumor types, including lung and brain tumors, or on radiation damage.