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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Cancer Molecular Genetics

Program co-leaders

Jolene Windle, Ph.D.
Azeddine Atfi, Ph.D.

The central theme of the Cancer Molecular Genetics (CMG) program is to identify and characterize the critical genes and genetic and epigenetic alterations that promote or suppress cancer initiation, progression, and therapeutic resistance to develop new strategies for more effective disease surveillance and better, less toxic cancer treatments.  

Scientific goals

  • Identify and characterize the key genes that contribute to cancer development by affecting immortalization, DNA synthesis, clonal dynamics, evasion of apoptosis and autophagy, invasion and metastasis, and angiogenesis
  • Determine the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate expression of key genes in both normal and cancer cells
  • Identify mechanisms by which genetic, epigenetic, and immunologic processes in cancer cells can be exploited to selectively induce cancer cell death
  • Develop strategies for translating this knowledge into innovative approaches for cancer treatment

The research projects addressing these goals fall into three major thematic areas:

  • Tumorigenesis and metastasis
  • Gene expression and epigenetics
  • Immunogenomics and the tumor microenvironment 

The scientific efforts are highly cancer-focused and range from basic discovery to translational and preclinical research within these thematic areas. 

The CMG program provides a highly interactive and collaborative research environment that facilitates scientific exchange within the program and with members of other programs. The CMG program is also strongly committed to mentorship of junior faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, and doctoral students to train the next generation of cancer biologists and therapists. Ultimately, the CMG program creates an environment that promotes the success of its members to advance scientific understanding of cancer and to translate these advances into more effective preventative and therapeutic measures.

View list of Cancer Molecular Genetics members

View graphic version