Hematopoietic Malignancies

The Hematopoietic Malignancies Program includes 25 members from 9 academic departments from the UCSF Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy. The overarching goals of the Program are to (1) develop more effective and less toxic therapeutics for hematopoietic cancers that are based on an increased understanding of molecules that regulate the growth, differentiation, and death of these cells; (2) characterize the functions of genes and proteins that are critical for the normal growth of immature and lineage-committed hematopoietic cells; (3) develop and exploit animal models for biologic and preclinical therapeutic studies; (4) investigate the genetic and environmental causes of hematologic cancers; (5) support the career development of young scientists; and (6) educate trainees, health care professionals, patients, and the public about leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

The Hematopoietic Malignancies Program conducts research under four themes:

  • Theme 1: The Biology of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT)
  • Theme 2: Signal Transduction in Myeloid Cells, Myeloid Leukemogenesis, and Targeted Therapeutics
  • Theme 3: Mechanisms of Lymphoid Growth Control, Transformation, and Response to Therapeutics
  • Theme 4: Clinical, Translational, and Population Sciences Research in Lymphoid Malignancies

Several principles underlie this multi-disciplinary program including the fundamental premise that investigating how normal hematopoietic cells regulate growth, differentiation, and death; and these principles are integral to understanding how these processes are perturbed in cancer. Furthermore, laboratory studies of primary leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma specimens can provide complementary insights into mechanisms of hematopoietic cell growth and leukemogenesis. Studies of human hematologic cancer specimens and in accurate mouse models are integral for translating research insights into innovative preclinical and clinical trials that are essential for improving the care of patients afflicted with cancer. Applying this philosophy to leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma has resulted in a program that includes a diverse and highly interactive group of clinical, translational, population sciences, and basic investigators who utilize a variety of experimental methods to conduct studies in normal and malignant hematopoiesis.

Characterizing how normal physiologic processes are perturbed in hematologic malignancies will provide a scientific foundation for rational new strategies to diagnose, prevent, and treat these cancers. Because the molecular alterations that contribute to leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma are relatively well understood, these malignancies also provide exceptional opportunities to develop animal models for testing new treatment strategies. UCSF investigators have generated a number of relevant mouse models, which are being used to elucidate targets for rational therapeutic intervention, to perform translational preclinical trials, and to characterize mechanisms of drug response and resistance.

The Program has established a highly interactive interdisciplinary approach that includes research efforts directed at gene discovery; modeling leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma-associated genetic lesions in the mouse; characterizing signal transduction pathways that are crucial for cellular growth control and are perturbed in hematologic cancers; testing experimental therapeutics with molecular analysis to ascertain mechanisms of drug action and drug resistance; and defining environmental risk factors that contribute to the development of hematologic cancers. The Program is built upon extraordinary institutional strengths in basic and population sciences; outstanding clinical programs for the care of patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma; and a tradition of cross-disciplinary collaborations in scientific investigations.