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Patricia W. Finn, MD. Department Chair


© Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

University of Illinois Cancer Center

Director: Howard Ozer, MD, PhD

The University of Illinois Cancer Center is dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer on the people of Illinois and beyond, through an integrated program of excellence in research, education, and outreach on the causes, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. As part of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, our four campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford and Urbana function as one Cancer Center. We work collaboratively with the University of Illinois Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Allied Health Sciences, Public Health, and Veterinary Science, in the context of cancer biology, genetics, therapies, imaging, prevention and early detection, and psychosocial oncology.  Finally, all of our campuses are integrated with the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, where our facilities provide state-of-the-art treatment and serve as a model for clinical trials. A combination of laboratory research, clinical trials and patient care, therefore enable our Cancer Center teams to actively translate knowledge gained, into improved quality of life for persons and families impacted by cancer. The Cancer Center is organized into four thematic research programs:

Population Health, Behavior and Outcomes

Associate Director: Marian L. Fitzgibbon, PhD

The Population Health, Behavior and Outcomes Program (PHBO) is distinguished by our expertise in the health of underserved and ethnic minority populations. The scientific focus of the PHBO Program covers three broad themes: cancer prevention, cancer control, and cancer survivorship. The PHBO mentors new investigators in cancer research through the NCI-funded Cancer Education and Career Development Program (R25T). This program offers predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships in cancer prevention and control. The Minority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Program (MBCCOP) offers opportunities for linkage between behavioral interventions and clinical translational research. U of I has one of only 12 MBCCOPs in the country. The PHBO will also interface with U of I’s newly funded Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) to enhance translational research in cancer prevention and control. Our program capitalizes on strengths of program members including epidemiology, health services research, sociology, dentistry, nursing, clinical psychology, biostatistics, pathology, and nutrition.


Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention

Leader: Peter Gann, MD, ScD

The scientific focus of the Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program (CCP) is on mechanisms of carcinogenesis, from initiation through promotion and proliferation, and chemoprevention. Emphasis is on hormone dependent cancers such as breast and prostate, as well as colon, liver and oral cancers. Research conducted by program members is aimed at identifying the critical cellular and molecular targets involved in chemically induced carcinogenesis, understanding the biological basis for inherited susceptibility to cancer, and developing and applying biomarkers as intermediate endpoints in Phase II chemoprevention trials. There is a pronounced interest in the role of nutrition and nutritionally-derived compounds in early cancer development.

Cancer Targets, Therapeutics and Imaging

Program Co-Leaders: William T. Beck, PhD and John L. Nitiss, PhD

The Cancer Targets, Therapeutics and Imaging Program (CTTI) has two major areas of focus. The first is to develop novel therapeutics that target molecules critical to the survival of cancer cells. The second is to employ these targeted agents to devise novel, state-of-the-art delivery and imaging technologies to treat tumors and to evaluate their response to therapy. The major scientific themes of the program are the discovery of small molecules from natural and synthetic sources, screening libraries of small molecules against validated molecular targets, formulation and delivery of small molecules and biologics in vitro and in vivo, and application of novel imaging technologies in vitro and in vivo to monitor tumor progression and response.

Cancer Cell Signaling

Leader: Angela Tyner, PhD

The scientific focus of the Cancer Cell Signaling Program (CCS) is on mechanisms that underlie tumor development and progression. There is a strong emphasis on the signaling proteins and pathways, and the gene regulators that are de-regulated in tumors. Members focus on the identification and characterization of molecules and pathways that are uniquely required for tumor cells to survive and progress, with the ultimate goal of identifying molecular targets for cancer therapy. Program members employ multidisciplinary approaches to interrogate cancer mechanisms ranging from cell biologic studies to mouse modeling and genetics. For example, genes linked to liver, colon, and breast cancers are being studied using mouse models to understand how they contribute to malignant progression. In addition, cancer-related pathways, which are poorly understood in mammalian system because of complexities, are being studied in yeast and drosophila using the power of genetics available to those systems.