The Cell Biology Program provides insight into the molecular cell biology of cancer to support the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center's organ-based cancer research programs. The Cell Biology Program conducts research on two Mayo Clinic campuses — Jacksonville, Fla., and Rochester, Minn.


Investigators in the Cell Biology Program focus on four main areas of research:

  • Transcription, chromatin and epigenetics of cancer. This group of researchers conducts collaborative studies investigating fundamental genetic mechanisms relating to cancer. They seek to better understand which genes promote cancer and which genes suppress cancer, and how those genes are regulated or activated.
  • Mitosis, senescence and aging. Recent evidence indicates that abnormal mitosis, cellular senescence and aging are not only risk factors for cancer but are also functionally linked processes. These investigators study the molecular basis of chromosome missegregation and its role in developing tumors and the role and molecular basis of cellular senescence and aging in developing tumors.
  • Cell signaling and receptor/membrane traffic. Cells have receptors on their surface that bind growth factors. These growth factors signal to the cell and help regulate gene activation, telling the cell to divide or differentiate into a muscle cell or a brain cell. Normally, once the signal to grow has been sent, it is internalized and the signal stops because it has been taken off the cell surface. However, if the pathway is defective and the cell is unable to internalize the growth factor, the cell will keep dividing because the signal is still on the surface. These investigators study the pathways and mechanisms through which receptor endocytic activity is coupled to cell signaling pathways.
  • Cell adhesion, migration and metastasis. Investigators in this research area are working to better understand how cells attach to substrates and to each other, and how these attachments are altered as a cell initiates migration and invasion. Many of these processes are also utilized during tumor angiogenesis, providing another avenue for research.


The Cell Biology Program has two co-leaders: