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Active site cleft of a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)

Tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases insert into the active site cleft of a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), coordinating the catalytic zinc and blocking the active site. Structures of these complexes offer clues to developing new MMP-targeted cancer therapeutics.

Cell with abnormal division caused by protumorigenic signals from the cellular microenvironment.

This cell has abnormal division caused by protumorigenic signals from the cellular microenvironment. The genetic alterations that drive cancer progression can be caused by therapeutically targetable extracellular signals.

At Mayo Clinic in Florida, the Department of Cancer Biology aims to be an engine for discovery, generating critical insights and breakthroughs that will lead to new clinical approaches and treatments for cancer. Research takes place in the C.V. and Elsie R. Griffin Cancer Research Building.

A broad range of approaches are used by department researchers as they search for answers, such as structural biology and crystallography, cell biology, 3-D modeling, animal models of human disease, human genomics and proteomics, tumor biomarkers, novel therapeutics, and translational studies related to clinical trials.

Faculty members of the Department of Cancer Biology publish in high-impact journals and are all federally funded. In 2011, federal and foundation funding exceeded $5.4 million in direct support. This rate of success is exceptional among academic basic science departments, especially considering today's unstable funding environment.

All department faculty members are also full members of Mayo Graduate School, and cancer biology is a recognized field of rank in the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. Graduate students in the department have easy access to classes and seminars at all Mayo Clinic campuses via videoconferencing, and they also participate in the department's cancer biology seminar series. Faculty members are actively involved in teaching graduate courses and mentoring graduate students in a wide range of topics related to cancer research.

Overall, the Department of Cancer Biology plays a critical role in Mayo Clinic's mission — both locally and across Mayo Clinic's campuses — by engaging in nationally and internationally recognized biomedical research, translating key findings to the clinic, and training future generations of biomedical students.