The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Cancer Biology program

Cancer Biology Image
Information about the Cancer Biology emphasis area in the Molecular Cellular and Integrative Biosciences PhD program


The Cancer Biology emphasis area focuses on training future cancer researchers in the molecular and cellular basis of cancer and mechanisms of prevention and treatment. Graduate students in Cancer Biology can work in multiple state-of-the-art cancer research labs on PSU University Park Campus that span several departments and colleges, and take emphasis area specific coursework that covers current concepts in molecular and cellular biology of cancer and translational cancer research. Our students can interact with and shadow clinical oncologists at Mt. Nittany Cancer Care Partnership in order to gain insight into clinical aspects of cancer and its treatment, and can interact with cancer researchers in the PennState Cancer Institute through the annual research retreat, program meetings seminars and journal clubs. Our students have access to state-of-the-art equipment in multiple core facilites to conduct their researchfor and the opportunity to present their research to peers at PennState and at national and international meetings. 


Cancer Biology Specific Courses:

Cancer Biology students take MCIBS core courses and quantitative requirements, and can take as core electives the following courses relevant to the emphasis area:

  • BIOL 416   Biology of Cancer:  Covers the biological basis of cancer development and aspects of prevention, detection and treatment.

  • BMB/MICRB 480   Tumor Viruses and Oncogenes: Covers DNA and RNA tumor viruses, oncogenes and tumor suppressors and the molecular basis of carcinogenesis.

  • VBSC 534   Current Topics in Cancer Research: Discussion of current cancer literature with focus on molecularly targeted drugs,  immunotherapies  and mechanisms of metastasis.

  • MCIBS/VBSC 535   Oncology, Bench to Bedside: Students in this course will interact with physicians at Mt. Nittany Medical Center in both patient oriented, hands   on and didactic settings to understand how cancer is diagnosed, imaged   and treated, how patient care and side effects of therapy is managed.

Additional electives are available at both the University Park and Hershey Campus


Recent Publications from Cancer Biology Faculty

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-β/δ inhibits human neuroblastoma cell tumorigenesis by inducing p53- and SOX2-mediated cell differentiation. Yao PL, Chen L, Dobrzański TP, Zhu B, Kang BH, Müller R, Gonzalez FJ, Peters JM. Mol Carcinog. 2017 56:1472-1483.

Priming of neutrophils toward NETosis promotes tumor growth.Demers M, Wong SL, Martinod K, Gallant M, Cabral JE, Wang Y, Wagner DD. Oncoimmunology. 2016 5:e1134073. 

ARF1 and ARF6 regulate recycling of GRASP/Tamalin and the Rac1-GEF Dock180 during HGF-induced Rac1 activation. Koubek EJ, Santy LC. Small GTPases. 2016 Aug 12:1-18.

Activation of PPARγ by endogenous prostaglandin J2 mediates the antileukemic effect of selenium in murine leukemia. Finch ER, Tukaramrao DB, Goodfield LL, Quickel MD, Paulson RF, Prabhu KS. Blood. 2017 129:1802-1810.

Mass Spectrometry-Based Metabolomics Identifies Longitudinal Urinary Metabolite Profiles Predictive of Radiation-Induced Cancer. Cook JA, Chandramouli GV, Anver MR, Sowers AL, Thetford A, Krausz KW, Gonzalez FJ, Mitchell JB, Patterson AD. Cancer Res. 2016 76:1569-77. 

CD82 suppresses CD44 alternative splicing-dependent melanoma metastasis by mediating U2AF2 ubiquitination and degradation. Zhang P, Feng S, Liu G, Wang H, Fu A, Zhu H, Ren Q, Wang B, Xu X, Bai H, Dong C. Oncogene. 2016 35:5056-5069.

Mutation analysis of large tumor suppressor genes LATS1 and LATS2 supports a tumor suppressor role in human cancer. Yu T, Bachman J, Lai ZC. Protein Cell. 2015 6:6-11.

ER stress and distinct outputs of the IRE1α RNase control proliferation and senescence in response to oncogenic Ras. Blazanin N, Son J, Craig-Lucas AB, John CL, Breech KJ, Podolsky MA, Glick AB Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017