An Integrated Molecular and Computational Approach to Understanding the Complex Interactions Underlying Cancer Metastasis

The human cell, like all robust systems, is highly integrated. While modern high-throughput genomic, proteomic, metabolomics, etc. methodologies are providing detailed characterizations of changes in the cellular components that accompany cancer onset and progression, relatively little is known concerning possible changes in interactions between these components in cancer cells. Molecular and biochemical changes associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT is a key process in cancer metastasis) are being examined from a systems perspective using network theory based algorithms. The goal of this program is to determine if cancer cells undergo “network rewiring” in the process of becoming metastatic. The results of this study will contribute significantly to the optimal design of personalized cancer therapeutics. The project is a collaboration between the laboratories of ICRC faculty members Eberhard Voit (Biomedical Engineering), Jeff Skolnick (Biology), John McDonald (Biology), Alexander Gray (Computer Science), Le Song (Computer Science), and Mark Styczynski (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering).