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Research Programs

Cancer Biology and Signaling



Dong-er Zhang, PhD

Dong-er Zhang, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Pathology
Moores Cancer Center

Phone: 858-822-5372
Research summary


About the Program


The Cancer Biology and Signaling Program (CBS) conducts basic research on the biological processes that underlie normal cell growth regulation and the initiation and progression of cancer. Research conducted by CBSmembers has advanced our understanding of the molecular basis and signaling pathways of cancer development and progression, which will be essential to identifying more effective prevention and treatment strategies for cancer through collaborations with translational, population, and clinical investigators.

The CBS program has 52 members across 11 departments and 3 schools. Our members investigate basic biological mechanisms that regulate cellular responses to extracellular and intracellular cues including mitogenic factors, cell death inducers, hormones, cytokines, ions, stress and differentiation factors. Our program has expanded towards understanding the molecular basis of cancer immunity to complement a major effort on cancer immunotherapy at the Moores Cancer Center. Research by the Cancer Biology and Signaling program members has made significant and comprehensive advancement to our understanding of signaling transduction in regulation of normal cell growth control. Investigators share a common research interest on bio-regulation, yet their specific research topics are along two major themes: Signal Transduction and Cell Growth and Tumorigenesis.

Program Goals

The primary goal of CBS is to maximize collaborative efforts in understanding mechanisms of cancer development and identifying novel effective drug targets in cancer treatment, with special attention to cancers that prevalently interfere with quality of life in our catchment area.

To achieve its objective, the CBS Program has two specific aims to:

  1. Identify somatic DNA mutations, coding and alterations in non-coding RNA splicing and editing, ribosomal regulation and signaling as well as phenotypic alterations in hematologic malignancies.
  2. Generate accurate models of hematologic malignancies to improve understanding of the pathogenesis of disease.
  3. Test promising new approaches through clinical trials for hematologic malignancies.

Meetings & Events

The following list includes events and seminars of notable interest to the Cancer Biology and Signaling Program and its members. Please look for the list of Upcoming CBS Events on the right edge of this page. Click on the links to add the events to your Outlook or Google calendars.

CBS PRogram Events

Seminars, lectures, and other programmatic meetings led by the CBS Program. Expand the panels for schedules, locations, webinar links, and more information.

Multi-program Events

Programs, Symposia, Lectures, and training activities of interest to the CBS Program community:

Annual Events

Annual symposia, conferences, and retreats of interest to the CBS Program community:



Please contact us if you are interested in developing a collaboration or in joining the Cancer Biology & Signaling (CBS) Research Program. To see recent cross-program collaboration highlights with the CBS group, please click here.

Click on the link below to see a list of all current CBS members.

For a full list of all program membership affiliations, please click here.

Upcoming CBS Events

Events for Cancer Biology & Signaling (CBS) Program Members

Click on an event headline to add it to your calendar.

CBS Scientific Highlights

Recent Scientific Highlights from Cancer Biology & Signaling Research Program members. Please contact us if you have a highlight to share.

Longitudinal assessment of tumor development using cancer avatars derived from genetically engineered pluripotent stem cells

Tomoyuki Koga, Isaac A. Chaim, Jorge A. Benitez, Sebastian Markmiller, Alison D. Parisian, Robert F. Hevner, Kristen M. Turner, Florian M. Hessenauer, Matteo D’Antonio, Nam-phuong D. Nguyen, Shahram Saberi, Jianhui Ma, Shunichiro Miki, Antonia D. Boyer, John Ravits, Kelly A. FrazerSFG, Vineet BafnaSFG, Clark C. Chen, Paul S. MischelSTT, Gene W. YeoSFG,Frank B. FurnariCBS

Read the paper

HORMA Domain Proteins and a Trip13-like ATPase Regulate Bacterial cGAS-like Enzymes to Mediate Bacteriophage Immunity

Qiaozhen Ye, Rebecca K Lau, Ian T Mathews, Erica A Birkholz, Jeramie D Watrous, Camillia S Azimi, Joe Pogliano, Mohit JainCBS, Kevin D Corbett

Mol Cell. 2020 Feb 20;77(4):709-722.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.12.009. Epub 2020 Jan 10.
Read the paper

Inhibition of Nuclear PTEN Tyrosine Phosphorylation Enhances Glioma Radiation Sensitivity through Attenuated DNA Repair

Jianhui Ma, Jorge A Benitez, Jie Li, Shunichiro Miki, Claudio Ponte de Albuquerque, Thais Galatro, Laura Orellana, Ciro Zanca, Rachel Reed, Antonia Boyer, Tomoyuki Koga, Nissi M Varki, Tim R Fenton, Suely Kazue Nagahashi, Marie Erik Lindahl, Timothy C Gahman, Andrew K Shiau, Huilin Zhou, John DeGroot, Erik P Sulman, Webster K Cavenee, Richard D Kolodner, Clark C Chen, Frank B FurnariCBS

Cancer Cell. 2019 Mar 18;35(3):504-518.e7.doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2019.01.020.
Read the paper

Research Programs at Moores Cancer Center

Our scientific achievements are made possible through collaborations with colleagues across all other research programs at Moores Cancer Center. To learn more about these programs follow the links below:

CBS Leadership & Research Summary

Dong-er Zhang, PhD

Dr. Zhang is Professor of Pathology and Biological Sciences, and conducts research on the molecular pathology of human cancer, especially leukemia, and interferon signal transduction. Her work has had a significant impact on the field, including, i) identifying the role of the synergistic effect of transcription factors RUNX1 and C/EBPa on the regulation of myeloid gene expression and lineage differentiation; ii) the establishment of cell and mouse models to study human t(8;21) fusion proteins in leukemia development; iii) discovery of the function of a novel gene Ubp43/Usp18 in protein modification by a ubiquitin-like modifier ISG15, and its role in interferon signal transduction; iv) identification of how protein ISGylation suppresses cancer growth. She was a member of Board of Scientific Counselors in Basic Sciences of NCI until November of 2017. Her research is funded by multiple NIH grants. Furthermore, she serves on the editorial boards of several journals (e.g., Blood) as well as on NIH, LLS, and ASH study sections.

Academic Profile

Zhang Lab Website