Cancer Biology

City of Hope's Department of Cancer Biology has two over-arching goals:
  • To develop powerful approaches to cancer prevention; and 
  • To improve diagnostic tools for detecting cancer early, when it is most treatable.
The research team studies the physical and chemical processes of cancer development (known as carcinogenesis), and investigates the work of genes – understanding the basic mechanisms of genetics, gene expression and function, signaling pathways, mutagenesis, DNA repair, and epigenetics – specifically as they relate to the development and progression of cancer.
The Department offers scientists a multidisciplinary research and training environment in a number of scientific areas, including:
  • Biomedical Informatics 
  • Cancer Metabolism 
  • Cancer Prevention and Diagnosis
  • Developmental Biology Drug Resistance
  • Epigenetics Hormonal Carcinogenesis
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Tumor Biology
Working to eliminate cancer through prevention, treatment, and cures, researchers in the Department of Cancer Biology work jointly, not only with other clinical and basic research teams within City of Hope, but also with other research centers, nationally and internationally.  In the battle against cancer, the Department is another mighty weapon in City of Hope’s arsenal.

Laboratory Research

Shiuan Chen, Ph.D. – Chair and Professor - Hormones and Cancer: Chemoprevention
Dr. Chen has studied the role of aromatase in breast cancer development for more than 20 years. Currently Dr. Chen's research explores the mechanisms of endocrine resistance in breast cancer cells and seeks to understand the structure-function relationship of the aromatase protein in order to develop chemoprevention strategies using phytochemicals with anti-aromatase activity. His laboratory also investigates the impact of environmental chemicals on human health by modulating aromatase activity and expression.
WenYong Chen, Ph.D. – Associate Professor - Epigenetics, Cancer and Aging
Dr. Chen's lab deciphers roles and functions of epigenetic regulators and determines their differential contribution to cancer and longevity, and through which, to develop approaches to improve cancer treatment, reduce cancer risk and promote healthy aging.
Gerald Holmquist, Ph.D. - Professor Emeritus
Timothy O'Connor, Ph.D. – Associate Chair and Professor - DNA repair, mutagenesis and cancer
Dr. O'Connor's lab is interested in DNA repair mechanisms, the biological consequences of repair failure, exploiting DNA repair mechanisms for therapeutic benefit and how DNA repair mechanisms can be used to control the epigenome of cells.
Judith Singer-Sam, Ph.D. - Professor Emeritus - Epigenetics and Developmental Biology
Monoallelic expression is a characteristic of genes that are implicated in certain inherited disorders of the CNS as well as some cancers. Using clonal CNS-derived neural stem cells as a model system, Dr. Sam's group is studying possible mechanisms for such expression.
Zijie Sun – Professor – Prostate Cancer, animal models
Dr. Sun’s research interest focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying transcriptional control and cell signaling in development and tumorigenesis. His ongoing projects include using cutting edge mouse models and other in vivo and in vitro approaches to uncover gene-expression and genomic and epigenetic alterations during the course of tumor initiation and progression.

Adjunct Faculty