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Cancer Epigenetics and Nuclear Dynamics (CEND)

Richard Carthew, PhD
Richard Carthew, PhD
Professor in Molecular Biosciences
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

Debabrata (Debu) Chakravarti, PhD
Debabrata Chakravarti, PhD
Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology-Reproductive Biology Research and Pharmacology
Feinberg School of Medicine
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

Membership Roster

The Cancer Epigenetics and Nuclear Dynamics (CEND) program of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University focuses on how nuclear dynamics and information flow within the cell are co-opted in cancer through altered genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Investigators in the program utilize a wide array of powerful molecular tools and genetic model systems ranging from yeast, Drosophila, C. elegans, and mice to human cancer models. Investigators are querying how altered genomic, epigenomic and nuclear dynamics feature in different human cancers. The program's mission is to facilitate the creation and exchange of ideas within the CEND community and beyond via interprogrammatic and intraprogrammatic collaborations, towards translation of these ideas into clinically useful cancer therapies and diagnostics.

Richard Carthew, PhD, a world expert in RNA-based gene regulation and developmental biologist in the Department of Molecular Biosciences is the Program Leader. Debabrata (Debu) Chakravarti, PhD, a well-renowned expert in the area of nuclear hormone receptor signaling and cancer epigenomics in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pharmacology is the Program Co-Leader. Amongst the program members are newly recruited faculty from the recently established Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, and Pharmacology on the Chicago campus. These new recruits with specific interest in cancer epigenetics, along with the existing faculty, significantly strengthen Northwestern’s cancer research programs in both basic and translational aspects of cancer epigenetics.

The goals of the Cancer Epigenetics and Nuclear Dynamics program are to:

  1. Investigate the organization and dynamics of the genome and how these processes are altered in cancer.
  2. Investigate epigenetic mechanisms that regulate chromatin structure and function and RNA structure and function.
  3. Investigate non-coding RNAs and their functions as regulators of gene expression and how their activities are linked to cancer.
  4. Elucidate the molecular mechanism of gene expression with particular emphasis on transcriptional regulation and mRNA processing.

Future goals of this program are to coordinate with the newly established Biochemistry and Pharmacology departments as well as pre-existing departments with cancer focus to recruit additional investigators studying DNA and RNA epigenetics. The program will enhance understanding of the role of chromatin dynamics in cancer by awarding seed grants that incentivize intra-programmatic collaborations and generate new program funding, and by establishing mechanisms for networking among basic and translational programs to stimulate translation of basic discoveries.