Postdoctoral Training in Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Tumor Development

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Overview of the Program

This program aims to draw together the expertise of a select group of outstanding basic cancer researcher mentors at the University of Wisconsin, with local opportunities for exposure to translational medicine, to create and formalize a program for postdoctoral training in basic cancer research.  The McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research has a long and remarkable history for innovation and discovery in cancer biology, and is an appropriate academic and administrative home for a training program.   The UW Carbone Cancer Center (UWCCC) was one of the first NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and has received continuous CCSG support for the past 36 years.  Together, they constitute an unparalleled training environment, with a reputation for commitment to the education of young scientists.  The trainer group (26 scientists from 13 departments) is outstanding; these faculty members have trained 65 academic professors, 50 professional scientists, 39 pharmaceutical industry scientists, a journal editor and 19 clinical scientists.  They have excellent funding track records (this group is supported by $14m total, and $8m dedicated cancer research funding this year).  The research focus of this group is diverse, though they share a cancer emphasis.  Model systems include breast, prostate, skin, head and neck, colorectal, liver and hematopoietic tumors, and their topics include genetic susceptibility, signaling pathways, the role of metabolism, tumor microenvironment, epigenetic effects, collaborating genetic factors, immune regulation, DNA damage, and the development of microfluidic technologies that enable breakthroughs of culture technique and circulating cell capture.  The program is led by Dr. Alexander (a breast cancer researcher, Era of Hope Scholar in the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program), with the assistance of Dr. Shull (Associate Director of the UWCCC).  Oversight is shared between members of a Program Committee, drawn together to represent viewpoints from basic, clinical and translational faculty members. The goal of this new Training Program is three-fold, 1) to provide more rigorous support of postdoctoral candidates during key phases of their career development, 2) to promote recruiting activities that focus on minority and underserved communities, and 3) to use the mentoring committee and other shared training responsibilities to catalyze discussion and scientific interaction between the research and clinical faculties. The scientific benefits of participation in the training program extends not only to the trainees funded by the training grant, but also to the other postdoctoral and predoctoral trainees within the participating laboratories, generating added value for this training program plan.  In summary, this program will be unique on this campus for providing programmatic support for outstanding young scientists training in cancer biology, and for facilitating the translational goals of the Federal Cancer Research program, by engaging these trainees with the clinical faculty.


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Caroline M. Alexander, Ph.D., Professor (Oncology); Mammary tumorigenesis in mice lacking the heparin sulfate proteoglycan, syndecan-1.

Nihal Ahmad, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Dermatology); Mechanisms of cancer development and identification of molecular targets for intervention; chemoprevention of cancer by naturally occurring non-toxic agents including plant-based agents, vitamins, hormones, etc.

David J. Beebe, Ph.D., Professor (Biomedical Engineering); Microfluidics, cell and cancer biology.

Paul J. Bertics, Ph.D., Professor (Biomolecular Chemistry); Mechanisms of growth factors and cytokine receptor action and the processes by which they contribute to the development and progression of various cancers.

Christopher A. Bradfield, Ph.D., Professor (Oncology); Molecular biology of the PAS family of proteins.

Emery H. Bresnick, Ph.D., Professor (Cell & Regenerative Biology; Medicine); Regulation of hematopoietic stem cell differentiation and hemoglobin synthesis; angiogenesis.

Wade A. Bushman, M.D., Ph.D., Professor (Urology); Hedgehog signaling, prostate growth regulation, and prostate cancer.

John Denu, Ph.D., Professor (Biomolecular Chemistry); Mechanisms and biological function of reversible protein modifications involved in modulating signal transduction, chromatin dynamics and metabolism.

William F. Dove, Ph.D., Professor (Oncology; Medical Genetics); Intestinal neoplasia and mouse genetics.

Andreas Friedl, M.D., Professor (Pathology & Laboratory Medicine); Interactions between cancer and stromal cells (fibroblasts and endothelial cells).

Michael N. Gould, Ph.D., Professor (Oncology); Genetics of breast cancer susceptibility focusing on comparative genetics and genomics.

Paul M. Harari, M.D., Professor (Human Oncology); Molecular and cellular aspects of interaction between growth factor inhibitors of EGFR and VEGR signaling pathways and their interplay with radiation in cancer treatment.

Anna Huttenlocher, M.D., Professor (Pediatrics; Medical Microbiology and Immunology); Molecular mechanisms that regulate cell migration and implications to tumor metastasis and inflammation.

David F. Jarrard, M.D., Professor (Urology); Determining underlying epigenetic alterations that predispose to prostate cancer development and the induction of senescence as cancer therapy.

Patricia J. Keely, Ph.D., Professor (Cell & Regenerative Biology; Biomedical Engineering); Understanding how breast cell interactions with the extracellular matrix through integrins and small GTPases affect normal and carcinogenic cell phenotype.

Paul C. Marker, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Pharmacy); Molecular genetics of prostate diseases.

Douglas G. McNeel, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor (Medicine); Immune-based therapies for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Shigeki Miyamoto, Ph.D., Professor (Oncology); Signaling mechanisms that control NF-κB functions.

Deane F. Mosher, M.D., Professor (Biomolecular Chemistry; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine); Extracellular matrix in cell growth and development.

James Ntambi, Ph.D., Professor (Biochemistry; Nutritional Sciences); The role of stearoyl-CoA desaturase in the metabolism of cancer cells.

Alan C. Rapraeger, Ph.D., Professor (Human Oncology; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine); Syndecan-mediated regulation of tumor cell growth and adhesion.

James D. Shull, Ph.D., Professor (Oncology); Genetic basis of cancer susceptiblity; hormones and cancer.

Vladimir Spiegelman, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor (Dermatology); Mechanisms that govern the turnover of short-lived mRNAs that encode important tumorigenesis regulators and the implications of this turnover for tumor development.

John Svaren, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Comparative Biosciences; Waisman Center); Altered targeting of chromatin remodeling complexes in the development of cancer.

Yongna Xing, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Oncology); Cell signaling pathways related to cancer; structural biology.

Wei Xu, Ph.D., Professor (Oncology); Environmental epigenomics in human breast cancer.

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Current Trainees



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Contact Information