About the Lab
The Hormones and Cancer Laboratory at Mayo Clinic led by principal investigator E. Aubrey Thompson, Ph.D., studies gene structure and function within the context of malignant transformation, with a major focus on breast cancer.
The Hormones and Cancer Lab has pioneered a number of aspects of next-generation sequencing and analysis of RNA and has also developed a number of powerful analytical tools that are widely used both locally and nationally.
The lab team's expertise in RNA sequence analysis is evidenced by the fact that the lab was one of three laboratories worldwide that were selected as primary sequencing sites for the Food and Drug Administration's Sequencing Quality Control (SEQC) project.
The Hormones and Cancer Lab is heavily involved in The Cancer Genome Atlas, which is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute. Within The Cancer Genome Atlas, the lab is a member of the breast cancer analytical working group and a co-leader of the fusion gene/transcript group.
The lab also has active members in the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, and leadership positions in several international clinical trials in breast cancer.
The genomic architecture of breast cancer cells
The major research focus within Dr. Thompson's Hormones and Cancer Lab is clinical and translational in nature.
The lab's objective is to use the massive amounts of data from its high-throughput sequencing projects to develop integrated models of the genomic architecture of breast cancer cells.
From these data, the research team is able to identify potential driver genes that may be developed as therapeutic targets. The lab is also able to build genomic models that predict clinical outcome, particularly in HER2-positive breast cancer.
Recent genomic analyses have elucidated a link between immunological activity and therapeutic outcome in HER2-positive tumors.
The lab's working hypotheses were originally developed through analysis of the North Central Cancer Treatment Group N9831 clinical trial (which enrolled about 3,500 patients). Confirmation of the central tenets of these hypotheses are being carried out using samples from the ALTTO (Adjuvant Lapatinib And/Or Trastuzumab Treatment Optimisation) Study, which enrolled nearly 8,400 patients worldwide.
A large part of what the lab does involves big machines and big data sets. But the most important component of the laboratory is the research team itself. Studies in the lab involve a high degree of teamwork among biologists, clinicians, bioinformatics analysts and biostatisticians, and the nature of the work is highly collaborative.
Although the lab's major focus is breast cancer, the research team actively seeks to exploit the analytical tools it has developed to answer both basic science and clinical questions related to a number of different tumor types. Active analytical programs are also ongoing in thyroid cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and renal cancer.
About Dr. Thompson
Dr. Thompson is a professor of cancer biology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Thompson is also a consultant in the Department of Cancer Biology. His main focus is clinical and translational research, with particular interest in breast cancer.