Investigators in the Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics Branch (CGCGB) seek to identify and study genes that contribute to cancer susceptibility and progression. They focus on inherited and somatic (body cell) mutations that contribute to cancer susceptibility syndromes and to the development of various aggressive cancers, including prostate, endometrial, bladder, lung, head and neck, and gastric cancers. They also study the relationship between genetic variation and cancer progression and pursue the discovery of both inherited and somatic variants that lead, specifically, to fast-growing and aggressive tumors.
Formation or production of tumors-tumorigenesis-can result from genomic alterations that are inherited or alterations that are acquired and accumulate over time. Some of these genomic changes drive tumor initiation, growth and metastases, while others are simply passenger events. CGCGB investigators use state-of-the-art sequencing methodologies to uncover genomic alterations that drive tumorigenesis. They search for causal sequence variants in DNA from inherited cells of at-risk individuals, in human tumor genomes and in the genomes of model organisms such as the dog, which is genetically susceptible to many of the same forms of cancer as humans. Branch investigators develop and implement new technologies and bioinformatics tools for genome analysis that are integral to this discovery pipeline. In aggregate, their studies have the potential to contribute to improved patient treatment, survival and well-being.