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 40 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, a former Era of Hope Scholar in the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program), with the assistance of Dr. Shigeki Miyamoto. 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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Paul G. Ahlquist, Ph.D., Professor (Plant Pathology, Oncology, Molecular Virology); Molecular mechanisms of viral replication, host interactions and oncogenesis.

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.

Jon Audhya, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Biomolecular Chemistry); Regulation of membrane dynamics and transport in disease.

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

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.

Mark E. Burkard, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor (Medicine: Hematology/Oncology); Development and selection of optimal targeted therapies for breast cancer; chemical genetics.

Vincent Cryns, M.D., Professor, (Medicine: Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism); Molecular origins of cancer and obesity, molecular profiling and nanotechnology.

Dustin Deming, M.D., Assistant Professor (Medicine: Hematology/Oncology); Mouse models of GI tumors and metastasis.

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

Richard B. Halberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Medicine: Gastroenterology and Hepatology); Tumor formation and progression in the gut: new concepts and novel targets for therapeutic intervention.

Paul Harari, M.D., Professor (Human Oncology); Examination of molecular targets that modulate growth characteristics of human squamous cell carcinomas.

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.

Gregory D. Kennedy, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor (Surgery); Chemoprevention of colon and rectal cancer.

Randall Kimple, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Human Oncology); Therapeutic sensitivity in HPV-associated cancers.

Pamela Kreeger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Biomedical Engineering); Microenvironment and ovarian cancer.

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.

Matthew Merrins, Ph.D, Assistant Professor (Medicine: Endocrinology); Live cell imagining and nutrient metabolism.

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

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

Lixin Rui, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Medicine: Hematology/Oncology); Elucidating molecular mechanisms of JAK-STAT signaling in lymphoma.

Linda A. Schuler, Ph.D., V.M.D., Professor, (Comparative Biosciences); The role of prolactin in mammary cancer; prolactin receptors, signaling, and processing; prolactin actions on fetal and maternal tissues during pregnancy.

Nathan M. Sherer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Molecular Virology/Oncology); HIV-1 assembly and spread; host-pathogen interactions; retroviral gene regulation; virus trafficking; cell-cell communication; live cell imaging.

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

Randal S. Tibbetts, Ph.D., Professor (Human Oncology); Molecular mechanisms of genome surveillance and neurodegeneration.

Beth A. Weaver, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Cell and Regenerative Biology); Regulation of chromosome segregation during mitosis.

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.

Jing Zhang, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Oncology); Hematopoietic and leukemic stem cells; mouse models for hematopoietic malignancies; cytokine signaling.


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Current Trainees

Melanie Ivancic
Melanie Ivancic, Ph.D.
Kennedy Lab  
Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson, Ph.D.

Beebe Lab  
Ginger Pocock
Ginger Pocock, Ph.D. Ahlquist Lab  
Michael Rowse
Michael Rowse, Ph.D. Xing Lab  
Halena VanDeusen
Halena VanDeusen, Ph.D. Merrins Lab  
Christopher Zahm
Christopher Zahm, Ph.D. McNeel Lab  


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Contact Information

Jenny Schroeder
6435 Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research
1111 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705