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Top blue bar image Department of Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Cancer Biology

Cancer Biology has always been a research focus in Texas, but in 2007 Texas voters approved a state consitutional amendment to establish the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) with a mission to promote a substantial increase in local cancer research. This department has a number of research groups that engage in cancer-related research, ranging from biochemical research at the molecular level to tissue engineering approaches.

Faculty links:

Kathleen M. Beckingham:  Development of methods for detecting and ablating malignant T cells based on the use of nanotube-antibody conjugates. 

Daniel Carson:  Expression and function of cell surface components involved in embryonic development and tumor cell models. Study of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan perlecan.

Confocal microscopy images of fluorescently labeled HES cells which express MUC1 (green), and HS-5 cells which do not express MUC1 (orange). White dots indicate clusters of MUC1 targeted gold nanoparticles (Carson Lab)


Pamela Constantinou: The study of membrane bound glycoproteins, mucins, as targets for cancer therapies.

Nikki Delk: Regulation and function of autophagy in cancer progression and bone metastasis in order to uncover mechanisms of cancer cell survival and identify potential biomarkers and targets for personalized cancer therapy.

Mary C. (Cindy) Farach-Carson:  The role of extracellular matrix in the progression of cancer; the use of proteoglycans in the engineering of connective tissues.

Dmitri Lapotko:  Cancer cell theranostics with plasmonic nanobubbles, treatment of drug-resistant cancers with high cancer cell specificity and low non-specific toxicity (Lapotko lab home page).

Scanning electron microscopy images of cancer cells after incubation with gold NPs, and the result of the generation of a non-invasive plasmonic nanobubble and an ablative PNB (Lapotko)


José Onuchic: Biophysical studies and modeling of protein folding and convergent kinetic pathways, the theory of chemical reactions in condensed matter with emphasis on biological electron transfer reactions, and stochastic effects in genetic networks.

George N. Phillips, Jr.: Prof. Phillips has a strong protein structure program, including a major project on discovery and structural studies on enzymes involved in natural product biosynthesis. The ultimate goal is to be able to create a wide range of novel semi-synthetic small molecules to use for screening for potential drug leads for cancer and other diseases.

Yizhi Jane Tao:  Structure and function of RNA viruses; RNA virus genome replication and genome packaging; influenza A virus; dsRNA viruses; astroviruses (lab home page).

Daniel Wagner:  Analysis of early development of the zebrafish embryo to determine the mechanisms responsible for the control and execution of vertebrate morphogenetic movements, studies of brain development and cancer in the zebrafish model organism.

Principle of nano-injection of extracellular molecular cargo (Lapotko)