Friday, December 14, 2012

Cancer Biology

Cell & Molecular Biology Graduate Group

Program Overview

The Program in Cancer Biology provides students in the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group an opportunity to undertake concentrated study of the basic biological processes that underlie the control of cell growth and metabolism and how these controls are abrogated during the initiation and progression of cancer. The program stresses the importance of fundamental genetic and molecular pathways regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, movement, and survival. Faculty members in the program have active research programs in the areas of oncogenesis, tumor suppressor genes, cell cycle control, apoptosis, tumor virology, angiogenesis, cell migration/metastasis, and cancer immunology. Opportunities to participate in research programs in cancer genetics and epidemiology are also available. In addition to individual faculty-led research programs, the Program in Cancer Biology sponsors a weekly work -in-progress seminar series in which students in the program present their current research. Students are also invited to weekly seminars in the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute seminar series, and have the opportunity to meet visiting seminar speakers.
The program is designed to train students primarily interested in obtaining a PhD. Degree and hoping to pursue an academic research career or careers in biotechnology and related industries

Program Requirements

Required Courses:
  • BIOM 600: Cell Biology & Biochemistry
  • BIOM 555: Control Gene Expression
  • CAMB 605 (see Academic page), and
  • CAMB 512 (Cancer Biology and Genetics)
  • Any two additional Cancer Biology courses. These include:
  • Remaining course work will consist of electives chosen from any relevant CAMB (or BGS) offerings, depending on interest and background.
See Academic section of this site for more information on the CAMB graduate group's requirements and related topics.
Program Courses
(Click on links for course descriptions below. Additional information may be found at
CAMB 512: Cancer Biology and Genetics
CAMB 530: The Cell Cycle, Genome Integrity and Cancer
CAMB 632: Cell Control by Signal Transduction Pathways
CAMB 697: Biology of Stem Cells
CAMB 701: Tumor Microenvironment
Suggested Elective Courses:
BIOL 486: Cell division and mitotic spindles
BMB 550: Molecular Mechanisms of Signal Transduction and Control
BMB 585: Wistar Institute Cancer Biology Course: Cell Cycle Checkpoints
CAMB 608: Regulation of Eukaryotic Gene Expression
CAMB 610: Molecular Basis of Gene Therapy
CAMB 512: Cancer Biology and Genetics
2011 Syllabus
The course objective is to introduce the students to important and current concepts in Cancer Biology and Cancer Genetics.  The lectures are organized into 4 broad thematic groups: A) Cell-Autonomous Mechanisms (e.g., tumor suppressor and oncogene function, DNA repair pathways, senescence, apoptosis); B) Non Cell-Autonomous Mechanisms (e.g., tumor microenvironment, hypoxia, angiogenesis); C) Organ Systems (e.g., pancreatic cancer, hematopoetic malignancies); and D) Therapeutic Approaches (e.g. protein kinase inhibitors, immunotherapy, radiation therapy).  The organizers, along with faculty from the Perelman School of Medicine, the Wistar Institute and CHOP, with expertise in the corresponding areas provide lectures for the course.  The students are expected to present, and participate in discussions of one or more key recent papers at Journal Clubs that are held at the end of each thematic group. There will be mid-term and final exams of short essays relevant to the lectures. Offered spring semester. [back to course list]
CAMB 530: The Cell Cycle, Genome Integrity and Cancer
2012 Syllabus 
This seminar course will focus on molecular and biochemical events that regulate cell cycle transitions and genome maintenance and will explore their relevance to human cancer.The course topics are chosen to familiarize the student with the key principles, the most productive experimental systems, and the seminal studies from the past twenty years of cell cycle and DNA damage/repair research. Primary literature will be used to illustrate the impact of perturbations in both cell cycle regulation and genome surveillance mechanisms on neoplastic growth. The topics unfold by focusing on major classes of cell cycle regulatory, mechanisms of their regulation, critical cell cycle transitions, and their importance for normal cell proliferation. We will subsequently consider the checkpointand DNA repair mechanisms that are activated by perturbation in genome integrity and examine how they in turn impact the cell cycle. Offered Fall semester. [back to course list]
CAMB 632: Cell Control by Signal Transduction Pathways
2012 Syllabus
This course, "Cell control by signal transduction pathways", will examine how various signal transduction mechanisms influence cell functions including replication, growth, transcription, translation and intracellular trafficking. The primary signal transduction pathways to be examined include those mediate by Notch, TGF-ß, TNF-a, Ras, and Rho. We will also discuss intracellular signaling in response to DNA damage and explore in depth some of the key classes of enzymes involved in transmitting signals including kinases and phosphatases. Offered spring semester. [back to course list]

CAMB 697: Biology of Stem Cells
2011 Syllabus
The goal of this course is to introduce graduate students to the field of stem cell biology through lectures and reviews of important contributions from the literature.  Topics include stem cell niche biology, epigenetics and reprogramming, tissue specific stem cells such as hematopoietic and epithelial stem cells, tissue regeneration, tissue engineering, and ethical and legal issues of stem cell and regeneration biology.  The future potential and challenges in stem cell and regeneration biology will be discussed.  Important aspects of stem cell identification and characterization utilizing multiple model systems will also be a focus.  Offered Spring Semester.  Limited to 14 students.[back to course list]
CAMB 701: Tumor Microenvironment
2012 Syllabus 
This 12-week course is designed for second (and up) year graduate students interested in learning about the tumor microenvironment. The course will cover the study of the main players of the tumor microenvironment (stroma, vasculature and immune cells) and emphasize the connections between the basic biology of the tumor microenvironment to potential therapeutic intervention. The goals of this course are to enrich scientific culture, train for clear and concise oral presentations, improve grant writing skills, and develop critical thinking, professional composure, and discussion skills. Offered fall semester. [back to course list]
Suggested Elective Courses:
Whereas any CAMB courses can be used to fulfill elective requirements (depending on the student's interests and background), the following courses are likely to be of particular relevance. Students will receive guidance from Cancer Biology leadership and faculty when choosing electives.
BIOL 486: Cell division and mitotic spindles
Life depends on the propagation of genetic material from one generation to next through cycles of genome replication and cell division. The genome is copied by the parent, and one exact copy is inherited by each daughter cell. We will treat chromosomes as discrete entities, rather than collections of genes, that are replicated and divided with high fidelity to ensure that the genome remains stable over many generations. By reading selected primary literature covering several decades, we will build an understanding of the cell cycle by focusing on chromosomes and the associated molecular machinery. We will explore mechanisms that underlie replication and division, particularly control mechanism that maintain genome integrity and are critical to prevent disease. The goal of the course is to develop a picture of the cell cycle by examining some of the key experiments and insights that have led to our current understanding.
Prerequisites: The course is designed for advanced biology students who have taken BIOL 202 or equivalent. It is also open to graduate students.
There is no textbook for the course. Readings from the primary literature will be assigned for each meeting and provided as pdf files. Presentations of these papers and class participation, including questions and critical evaluation, are an essential part of the course. Grading will be based on one in-class exam during the semester (30%), a final paper (30%), and class participation (40%, including paper presentations). [back to course list]
BMB 550: Molecular Mechanisms of Signal Transduction and Control

The biochemistry of receptors, GTP-binding proteins, effectors, second messengers, post-translational modification, etc. is examined with the aim of understanding how cellular signal-response cycles such as growth, secretion, electric activity, movement, etc. are controlled and how control may be lost. Principles of signaling systems analysis are developed and used together with kinetic, thermodynamic and specific molecular structure to understand the best mapped specific systems. Offered fall semester. [back to course list]
BMB 585: Wistar Institute Cancer Biology Course: Cell Cycle Checkpoints

This course is intended to provide foundational information about the molecular basis of cancer. When necessary the significance of this information for clinical aspects of cancer is also discussed. The main theme centers around cell cycle checkpoints with specific emphasis on the biochemistry and genetics of DNA damage signaling pathways, DNA damage checkpoints, mitotic checkpoints and their relevance to human cancer. The organizers and guest lecturers from universities and research institutes in the Northeast teach the course. Offered spring semester. [back to course list]
CAMB 608: Regulation of Eukaryotic Gene Expression

An advanced seminar course emphasizing the molecular biology and molecular genetics of transcription in eukaryotes. Based on current literature, the presentations and discussions will familiarize the student with present day technology and developing principles. Offered fall semester. [back to course list]
CAMB 610: Molecular Basis of Gene Therapy
2012 Syllabus 
This is a team-taught, survey course that focuses on the basic science relevant to achieving efficient and effective gene transfer in animal models and humans for the treatment of disease. The course includes a unit devoted to a variety of vectors useful for gene transfer, with the remainder of the course devoted to the study of current gene therapy approaches using specific diseases as models. Prior background in biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular biology is essential. Aspects of organ system anatomy and physiology, virology and immunology that are relevant to the course material are included in the course. Because of the rapid movement in this field, specific topics vary somewhat from year to year. The course is designed for second year graduate students, however first year students may take the course with the course director's approval. Lecture format with discussion hours interspersed. There will be a take-home examination at the end of each of the three sections, each focusing on the material covered in that section. Offered fall semester. [back to course list]
Program Committees
Dr. James Alwine
Dr. Brian Keith
Dr. Sandra Ryeom
Dr. Andre Thomas-Tikhonenko

Dr. Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko, Program Chair
Dr. Jim Alwine, Consiglieri / Abramson Cancer Center Liaison

Dr. Craig Bassing, Chair of Advising Committee
Dr. Roger Greenberg, Chair of Prelim Committee
Dr. Eric Brown, Chair of Admissions Committee
Dr. Sandra Ryeom, Chair of Curriculum committee

Dr. Brian Keith, AFCRI Director of Education
Dr. Celeste Simon, AFCRI Liason
Dr. Xianxin Hua, Co-Director of CAMB 632: Cell Control by Signal Transduction Pathways
Dr. Alan Diehl, Co-Director of CAMB 530: The Cell Cycle and Cancer
Dr. Andy Minn, Co-Director of CAMB 512: Cancer Genetics and Biology

Theonie Anastassiadis, Student rep
Kilang Yanger, Student rep 
Dr. Eric Brown
Dr. Sandra Ryeom
Dr. Katherine Wellen
Dr. Xiaolu Yang

Dr. Craig Bassing
Dr. Ellen Puré
Dr. Xiaolu Yang 

------------------------------------------ Best Wishes: Dr.Ehab Aboueladab, Tel:01007834123, ------------------------------------------
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