University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

Overview

Capitalizing upon the large, active clinical program in women's cancer at our institution, the UPCI Breast and Ovarian Cancer Program (BOCP) represents a comprehensive basic, translational, and clinical research program that aims to reduce the incidence and death from women's cancers. Research within the BOCP is focused on:

  1. Basic cancer biology
  2. Diagnostic and prognostic markers
  3. Cancer prevention
  4. Molecular therapeutics

Within these research themes, the goals of the BOCP are to:

  1. Investigate mechanisms of cancer initiation and progression
  2. Identify and validate new diagnostic and prognostic markers
  3. Examine the role of tumor evolution and heterogeneity in progression and response to therapy
  4. Discover the phenotypic and genotypic dependencies of metastatic cancer
  5. Translate knowledge of the biology into personalized prevention and treatment

BOCP members make extensive use of rapidly emerging 'omic' technologies for understanding basic biology, developing new diagnostic and prognostic markers, and for directing and monitoring therapeutic interventions. These technologies are being applied to the extensive bank of tissue in the UPCI Tissue and Research Pathology Services (TARPS), which will be enhanced through the development of improved data collection (using REDCap) and integration (using i2b2) in collaboration with the UPCI Cancer Bioinformatics Services (CBS). To enable the rapidly emerging use of molecular data in women's cancer, BOCP members are collaborating with CBS colleagues to develop the Pittsburgh Genome Research Repository (PGRR) to integrate genotype and phenotype information, and with continued development of the Enterprise Data Warehouse in collaboration with UPMC.

Building upon the single largest submission of women's cancers to NCI's The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), and extensive expertise in computational and systems biology, BOCP members are working closely with members of UPCI's Molecular and Cellular Cancer Biology Program (MCCBP) and Cancer Therapeutics Program (CTP) to identify molecular dependencies of women's cancer that can be therapeutically targeted. Identification of novel targets and drugs will be complemented by development of companion diagnostics and next-generation multi-omic diagnostic and prognostic tests. Efforts within the BOCP towards preventing women's cancers focus on screening, genetics, and identifying new systemic therapies for risk reduction. Basic and translational studies often lead to investigator-initiated trials such as those recently funded in our Ovarian Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) and others currently under development in invasive lobular cancer and ductal carcinoma in situ.