B- cell lymphoproliferative disorders (LPDs) are neoplasms of the blood and encompass lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia. LPDs can originate either in the lymphatic tissues (as in the case of lymphoma) or in the bone marrow (as in the case of leukemia and myeloma), and they all are involved with the uncontrolled growth of lymphocytes or white blood cells. There are many subtypes of LPD, e.g., chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The disease course and treatment of LPD is dependent on the LPD subtype; however, even within each subtype the clinical presentation, morphologic appearance, and response to therapy is heterogeneous.
Research has consistently shown that patients with at least one blood relative with an LPD have over two times greater risk of getting an LPD compared to the general population. These findings strongly suggest that genetics play a significant role in the development of an LPD. As such, the goals of our lab are to identify the genes that increase the risk of developing an LPD, with an emphasis on CLL and NHL. To do this, we ascertain families that have multiple individuals diagnosed with these cancers. These families are then used to screen the genome for susceptibility genes through a variety of approaches, including linkage and association studies.