Cancer & the Molecular Basis of Disease
The third principal research focus in theDepartment of Biochemistry involves programs devoted to the molecular, nutritional, and genetic bases for cancer and other common chronic human diseases. Seventeen faculty members in Biochemistry (of which 6 have their primary interests in this area) pursue research linked to human diseases, and most interact closely with the programs in (1) Cell Growth and Survival and (2) DNA Damage and Cellular Defenses of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and the recently established Center for Research on Human Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Many of these individuals are also members of the Molecular Genetics Program.
A broad spectrum of technical approaches utilizing the tools of enzymology, molecular biology, and genetics is being used to understand the origins of diseases which are common in our population. Among the studies underway are analyses of the inheritance of diabetes and cancer, mechanisms of resistance to toxic chemicals including carcinogens, anticancer drugs, and reactive oxygen species, and the molecular basis of altered mitochondrial function associated with chronic alcohol consumption and inherited diseases linked to altered amino acid metabolism. Faculty members in this research area collaborate in a wide variety of studies with investigators in basic sciences and clinical faculties at WFSM and both nationally and internationally. These investigations include basic research into the metabolism of drugs and environmental toxins, apoptosis, analyses of metabolism and gene regulation in normal and cancer cells, and direct diagnosis of cancer, diabetes, and other disorders in humans by molecular genetic and immunological techniques.