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Tumor Invasion, Metastasis and Angiogenesis (TIMA)

The Tumor Invasion, Metastasis, and Angiogenesis (TIMA) Program of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center is a well-established research program that remains focused on multidisciplinary basic and translational research. The TIMA Program includes both basic research and clinical scientists with the common goal of providing a more detailed understanding of the individual cellular and molecular processes that underlie metastatic disease.

Membership Roster

Cancer biologist Chonghui Cheng, MD, PhD, is the leader of this interdepartmental program that includes 38 faculty from 13 departments and 3 schools, 22 of whom have joint appointments in clinical programs. The program co-leaders are Carole Labonne, PhD, and Hidayatullah Munshi, MD. Between August 2007 and July 2012 there have been 437 cancer relevant publications from the current program members. Fifty-nine (13.5%) of these publications represent intra-programmatic collaborations and 162 (37.1%) represent inter-programmatic collaborations.

Total current cancer-relevant peer-reviewed funding is $9,916,928 (direct) with $1,670,858 (direct) from NCI and $8,246,070 (direct) from other peer-reviewed sources.

The TIMA program is organized into four thematic groups of researchers who utilize an integrative approach to evaluate the interrelated processes of adhesion, matrix remodeling, cellular motility, and angiogenesis. A common feature of these working groups is their emphasis on elucidating key molecular interactions both between tumor cells and with unique components of the host stromal microenvironment. Specific areas of research focus include the regulation of cell adhesion and adhesion receptor signaling, investigation of matrix assembly and proteolytic remodeling of the stromal microenvironment, elucidation of the mechanisms that control epithelial-mesenchymal transitions, cell motility, and invasiveness, and characterization of the mechanisms that regulate tumor angiogenesis.

Program members are highly interactive both intra- and inter-programmatically, participating in a number of joint basic and translational research initiatives. As the vast majority of cancer patient mortality is attributable to metastatic disease, the overall objective of the TIMA program is to obtain a more detailed understanding of these fundamental processes, and to translate these findings into the clinical setting as novel diagnostic or therapeutic approaches for the inhibition of tumor metastasis and angiogenesis.

The goals of the Tumor Invasion, Metastasis and Angiogenesis Program are to:

  1. Determine how cells interact with each other and with surrounding matrix elements, and better understand adhesion-mediated signaling events and the resultant regulation of gene expression
  2. Investigate the process of matrix assembly and the regulatory pathways that control the activity of proteinases that remodel the tumor stromal microenvironment and thereby modulate invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis
  3. Understand the molecular mechanisms that control epithelial-mesenchymal transitions and regulate tumor cell motility and invasiveness
  4. Elucidate the mechanisms that regulate the formation and integrity of vascular structures, and characterize compounds that inhibit angiogenesis in vitro, in animal models, and in patients.