The Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium Genetics Program
One of the centerpieces for the organization of the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium Genetics Program is a NIH P20 COBRE grant that funds research, mentoring and CORE resources for the development of the research careers of promising young faculty. The grant involves Young Investigators, Leadership, and Mentoring from both the Tulane University Cancer Center and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center. It also has the benefit of an external advisory board composed of nationally-recognized experts who supply added guidance and mentoring within the program.
Cancer as a genetic disease
It is now well established that cancer is the result of a number of genetic changes within a cell that are needed to alter growth regulation, cell survival, angiogenesis, immune surveillance, and metastatic properties. One of the underlying causes of cancer is mutations in genes that oversee the maintenance and stability of the DNA. Once these genes are mutated, the cells begin to accumulate mutations rapidly, allowing them to ‘evolve’ to the malignant state
(see Figure 1).
Understanding the genetics of cancer involves understanding the factors that contribute to mutagenesis and DNA repair (genetic instability), along with understanding the types of mutations that occur and how they contribute to the malignant phenotype. The causes of genetic instability represent excellent targets for prevention of cancer, while the products of the result mutations are excellent targets for novel therapeutics.
Strengths of the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium Genetics Program
The Members of the Cancer Genetics Program have strengths in three main focus areas. One is genetic instability, which encompasses the sources and causes of mutations along with how the cell tries to repair damage to DNA to avoid mutations. A second strength is in the area of transcriptional regulation. Transcription regulation is a sensitive target for genetic instability. We also have a number of investigators working on the role of viruses in inducing tumors.
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