Photograph of a researcher working in a lab of the Cell Biology Program Understanding the origins of cancer

Our investigators are working to define the molecular and cellular basis of neoplastic transformation, growth and metastasis, and are studying normal and aberrant functions of genetic lesions.

Overview

The Cell Biology Program of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center investigates the molecular cell biology of cancer to help support the center's organ-based cancer research programs.

Our goal is to define the molecular, genetic and cellular basis of neoplastic transformation, growth and metastasis, while providing insights into cell growth and senescence, organ development, chromatin dynamics, and genomic alterations. Our work cuts across many types of cancer, including lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and leukemia and may pave the way for new treatment options or even cures.

Areas of research

Our investigators focus on four main areas of cancer research:

  • Cell cycle and transcription control. Researchers in this focus area investigate the fundamental genetic and epigenetic mechanisms regulating the cell cycle and transcription control in normal, senescent and neoplastic cells.
  • Cell signal and receptor trafficking. Researchers in this focus area investigate the mechanisms through which cell signaling pathways and receptor endocytic activity promote uncontrolled cell growth.
  • Tumor microenvironment and angiogenesis. Researchers in this focus area study how the cross-talk between cancer cells and their microenvironment promotes cancer growth by regulating neo-angiogenesis, inflammation, immune evasion and fibrosis.
  • Cell adhesion, migration and metastasis. Researchers in this focus area study how cells attach to substrates and to each other and how these attachments are altered as a cell initiates migration and invasion.

The Cell Biology Program conducts research at all three Mayo Clinic campuses — in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The program also is affiliated with the Department of Cancer Biology.

Program leadership

The Cell Biology Program is directed by Panagiotis Z. Anastasiadis, Ph.D., and Mark A. McNiven, Ph.D.

  • Panagiotis Z. Anastasiadis, Ph.D., is a cancer biology researcher whose work in the Cell Adhesion and Metastasis Laboratory focuses on cancer metastasis and the E-cadherin protein. Dr. Anastasiadis is also a professor of cancer biology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Mark A. McNiven, Ph.D., is a gastroenterology researcher whose Cytoskeletal Membrane Dynamics Laboratory focuses on membrane and cytoskeletal interactions that play a key role in essential processes performed by cells of the pancreas and liver. Dr. McNiven is also a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota.