The National Cancer Institute has selected UT Health San Antonio Cancer Center as one of nine institutional members of the NCI’s elite Cancer Systems Biology Consortium. It includes a five-year, $9.1 million grant to lead a group of more than 20 experimental and computational scientists from six institutions to study the broad biological mechanisms of breast and prostate cancer.
The NCI consortium includes Stanford, Yale, MIT, Columbia, University of California at San Francisco, University of Utah, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Oregon Health & Science University.
The consortium’s research center at UT Health San Antonio will be led by Tim Huang, Ph.D., chair and professor of molecular medicine, and Victor Jin, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular medicine.
As a research center, UT Health San Antonio will coordinate the studies and provide core facilities, such as data collection, biological sample storage and analysis, and computational analysis. Researchers from Ohio State University and Baylor College of Medicine have a major research project through the UT Health San Antonio research center, which also includes scientists from The University of Texas at San Antonio, Duke University and the University of Vermont.
“The center’s main area of research is to use all the technology available to study how cells are biologically programmed to initiate cancer in hormone-resistant breast and prostate cancers,” Dr. Huang said.
Dr. Jin will oversee all aspects of computation modeling and data management and communications among the research partners.
He and Dr. Huang are co-leading a project focusing on three-dimensional transcriptional regulation as well as computational modeling in nucleosome regulation in cancer progression. Dr. Jin also is responsible for managing the core of data analyses and management. Additional researchers and their projects include:
Zhijie “Jason” Liu, Ph.D., molecular biologist at UT Health San Antonio, who studies the changes of DNA regulatory elements that are controlled by sex hormones in either breast or prostate cancer.
Jianhua Ruan, Ph.D., from the UTSA computer science department, will work closely with Dr. Liu on computational modeling of mega-genomic assemblies and their function during cancer progression.
Chun-Liang Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor of research at UT Health San Antonio, will be involved in developing methods for isolation and ex vivo expansion of circulating tumor cells for single-cell epigenome analysis.
Nameer Kirma, Ph.D., associate professor of research at UT Health San Antonio, will lead the outreach core of the NCI U54 grant at the San Antonio site.
Virginia Kaklamani, M.D., and Michael Liss, M.D.
Dr. Kaklamani, professor of medicine, is a leader of the Breast Cancer Program, and Dr. Liss is a urologist at UT Health San Antonio Cancer Center. As clinical investigators, both will closely work with the basic scientists within the CSBC Research Center and provide a resource of cancer patient samples for the validation of therapeutic targets and for facilitating the translational studies.