Based on the promise and potential of genomic medicine, cancer genetics is a significant area of research emphasis that the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute will be. The development of cancer involves a complex multi-step succession of molecular events involving the acquisition of mutations in proto-oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and other genes that control, directly or indirectly, cell proliferation, cell cycle control, and cell death. These acquired cellular changes that transform normal cells to become malignant include cells’ ability to generate their mitogenic signals, resist growth-inhibitory signals, evade apoptosis, acquire vasculature, and proliferate without limits. Completing the entire draft sequence of the human genome, coupled with advances in functional genomics and proteomics, and the use of genetically engineered mice have opened a new era of discovery of the basic mechanisms altered in the complex processes underlying carcinogenesis.
The goal of the cancer genetics and molecular oncogenesis programs of the Greehey CCRI is to identify and characterize the genes, gene products, and pathways involved in pediatric cancers, recognizing that the study of pediatric cancer models has relevance to the problem of cancer in general. We anticipate that half or more of all recruits to Greehey CCRI will be basic cancer researchers in cancer genetics and molecular oncogenesis.