Project Spotlight

Our faculty are conducting research resulting in breakthroughs in cancer research. Their findings are publicized in high-impact journals, news media and textbooks. The following are brief summaries of selected research projects:

Active Surveillance: Diagnostic & Prognostic Tools

Dr. Dan Lin
Dr. Lin

Prostate Active Surveillance Study (PASS)
Funded by The Canary Foundation
Led by Dan Lin, MD

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men in North America. A diagnosis of prostate cancer is complicated by the fact that the majority of prostate cancers are not lethal even if left untreated, yet our ability to predict which cancers can safely be left untreated is far from perfect. The major goal of PASS is to identify markers (proteins, DNA, RNA, hormones, etc.) that can be used to build diagnostic tests to distinguish potentially lethal prostate cancers, which may be best treated with aggressive therapy, from non-lethal cancers, which are suitable for continued monitoring without aggressive treatment. 

Genetic Risk Factors: Populations Health

Dr. Janet Stanford
Dr. Stanford

Prostate Cancer Genetic Research Study (PROGRESS)
Funded by NCI & NIH
Led by Janet Stanford, PhD

The Prostate Cancer Genetic Research Study (PROGRESS) is a nationwide research project exploring why some families have several male relatives with prostate cancer. This project has enrolled over 300 families with multiple members who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, some at particularly early ages. Discovering the inherited genes for prostate cancer in families and how they work will hopefully provide new clues to help diagnose, treat, cure, and even prevent prostate cancer in future generations. The long-term goal of PROGRESS is to identify loci that may contain genes with mutations responsible for hereditary prostate cancer.

Precision Oncology: Diagnostic & Prognostic Tools

Dr. Peter Nelson
Dr. Nelson

Stand Up To Cancer Prostate Cancer Dream Team
Funded by A Stand Up to Cancer
Led by Peter Nelson, MD

Prostate cancer, like other types of cancer, is not a homogenous disease. The diversity in the genetic makeup of each individual’s cancer may explain why therapies that work for some patients seem ineffective for others. More and more, researchers and physicians realize that treatment decisions will require a personalized or precision approach whereby the type of treatment is chosen based on the specific genetic characteristics of a patient’s tumor.

The Stand Up To Cancer-Prostate Cancer Foundation Dream Team will sequence 500 patients’ cancer genomes, the 3.1 billion bases of DNA sequence which constitute the entire set of genetic instructions found in a human cell. With this information, the Dream Team expects to be able to direct patients toward the treatment most likely to have an effect on their tumor. The hope is that this approach, often referred to as “personalized medicine,” will lead to more effective and lasting treatments, and potentially spare the patients from unnecessary therapies that are expensive, highly toxic and all too often provide little or no benefit.

Modeling Prostate Cancer Control: Prevention, Screening, Treatment, and Follow-up Care

Dr. Ruth Etzioni
Dr. Etzioni

CANTRANCE: A Tool to Translate Intermediate Endpoints to Mortality in CE Studies
Funded by NIH & NCI
Led by Ruth Etzioni, PhD

The overall goal of this proposal is to position disease modeling as a viable tool for clinical decision-making and policy development. We propose use various models to capture outcomes following diagnosis, such as disease recurrence and secondary treatment. The models will be used to project the expected costs and benefits of different screening and treatment policies, in order to identify those likely to be of most value in practice. This work will use some of the largest and richest population-based data sources available, as well as results from recently published American and European prostate cancer screening trials. The proposed work comprehensively covers the range of cancer control issues facing prostate cancer investigators today, with the aim to improve outcomes for prostate cancer patients.