The National Cancer Institute has selected UT Health Cancer Center to become one of nine institutional members of the NCI’s elite Cancer Systems Biology Consortium. UT Health’s selection 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 Cancer Systems Biology Consortium (CSBC) Research Center at UT Health will be led by Tim Huang, Ph.D., chair and professor of molecular medicine and interim director of the UT Health Cancer Center, and Victor Jin, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular medicine. UT Health Cancer Center formerly was called the Cancer Therapy & Research Center.

As a research center, UT Health 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 research center, which also includes scientists from UT San Antonio (UTSA), 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. “Previous studies suggest that complicated, large-scale genomic interactions involving DNA-protein complexes are an underlying cause of patients resisting anti-hormonal therapies for breast and prostate cancer.

“Investigating the three-dimensional architecture of these cellular complexes will yield a better understanding of drug resistance in hormone-driven cancers and may pave the way to new, individualized therapies that will counteract this resistance,” he explained.

Dr. Jin will oversee all aspects of computation modeling and data management and communications among the research partners.

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