About the Program

The Gastrointestinal Cancer Program of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center is dedicated to improving understanding of gastrointestinal cancers and advancing research discoveries into better treatment options and an improved quality of life for patients with GI cancers.

Through the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program, which is part of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, investigators conduct research about a wide range of cancers that affect the gastrointestinal system, including pancreas cancer, liver cancer, esophagus cancer and colon cancer. With a collaborative approach, physician-scientists investigate the pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, prognosis and treatment of gastrointestinal malignancies to reduce their incidence and to increase survival for people with gastrointestinal cancer.

Researchers in medical and radiation oncology, medical genetics, pathology, surgery and many other specialties work together through the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program to gain a better understanding of the nature of cancer to give people with cancer of the gastrointestinal tract and biliary system the widest possible range of treatment options.

Scientists conduct laboratory-based research, studying cancer cells and the biological mechanisms within those cells to better understand the origin and growth of cancer. Other researchers engage in population science or epidemiology research, examining large groups of individuals to find patterns of risk for specific cancers.

Through clinical trials, researchers test the most promising discoveries to determine the benefits for patients and compare new treatments with today's standard of care. Many of these clinical trials are the result of translational research, which involves researchers and clinicians moving findings from the laboratory into the clinical setting, benefitting patients diagnostically and therapeutically.

The Gastrointestinal Cancer Program at Mayo Clinic focuses on two research themes:

  • Mechanisms of carcinogenesis and tumor biology
  • Early detection and prevention

The Gastrointestinal Cancer Program also manages the Mayo Clinic Pancreatic Cancer SPORE. The SPORE promotes research focused on understanding the causes of pancreatic cancer and the pathways by which pancreatic cancer progresses. The SPORE also develops interventions to treat pancreatic cancer. Read more about the Pancreatic Cancer SPORE.

Program leadership

The Gastrointestinal Cancer Program at Mayo Clinic is directed by Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab, M.D.; Frank A. Sinicrope, M.D.; and Kenneth K. Wang, M.D.

  • Dr. Bekaii-Saab, a hematology consultant, is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Dr. Sinicrope, an oncology consultant, is a professor of medicine and of oncology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota.
  • Dr. Wang, a gastroenterologist, is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota. He is also a principal investigator in the Barrett's Esophagus Laboratory, which takes an innovative approach to improving care for people with Barrett's esophagus, who have early esophageal cancer, or who are at risk of developing cancer.