Research Programs












The BU Cancer Center research activities are organized into three Programs: two programs are translationally based (T1 Translational Cancer Research Program and the Hormone-Responsive Cancers Research Program) and one program is population-based (Cancer Prevention and Control in Diverse Populations). Investigators in different research programs collaborate extensively, allowing greater opportunity for interdisciplinary and translational research.


Cancer Prevention and Control in Diverse Populations Program

Director: Deborah Bowen, Ph.D.

Overview: The goals of the Cancer Prevention and Control in Diverse Populations Program are to improve the scientific bases of cancer control, especially in understudied populations; study methods of promoting equity of access, treatment, and outcomes of health care for people with cancer and people at risk for cancer; and develop and evaluate strategies to reduce disparities in the incidence, prevalence, and burden of cancer and related adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups.

In keeping with the mission of the National Cancer Institute, the Program seeks to improve the health of disadvantaged, underserved and vulnerable populations, both locally and globally, through collaborative cancer research efforts that bridge the molecular/microscopic view and the person/population view. Investigators in the program present expertise in epidemiology, biostatistics, statistical genetics, gerontology, sociology, and psychology.

Selected Research Goals:


  • Identification of risk factors for cancers with large documented cancer disparities (head and neck, colon, lung, breast)
  • Reduction of differential risk factors in healthy populations experiencing disparities in care or in preventive activities
  • Reduction in clinical and access-related disparities that drive prevention and treatment seeking and ultimately, rates of clinical care and contact

Program Thematic Areas:

The Population Science – Cancer Disparities Research Program is divided into three Themes, focused on different areas of cancer prevention and control. These include:

  • Primary Prevention – the examination of combined environmental, genetic, nutritional, and behavioral sources of cancer etiology and the reduction of behaviors that lead to cancer.
  • Secondary Prevention – including cancer screening, disparities and barriers in access to care, and including our Patient Navigator Program.
  • Treatment / Survivorship Issues – including decision making, cancer-related quality of life, and survivorship disparities.


Members of the Cancer Prevention and Control in Diverse Populations Program: Listing


Hormone-Responsive Cancers Research Program

Director: Michael Sherman, Ph.D.

Overview: The Hormone-Responsive Cancers Research Program focuses on basic and translational research directed toward endocrine-responsive tumors, particularly breast cancer and prostate cancer. These diseases in particular represent significant cancer disparities for black populations, with significantly higher incidence in the case of prostate cancer, and significantly higher mortality rates for both cancers.

Members of this program study hormone signaling in normal and malignant cells, the role of micronutrients in cancer cell proliferation, mechanisms by which environmental toxins induce malignancy, and mechanisms of metastasis and progression, among other areas of research.

Selected Research Goals:

  • Study of signaling changes in breast tissue which are induced by environmental carcinogen exposure and promote the transformation process, and interventions to interrupt this process
  • Identification of genetic abnormalities in early breast lesions, the genetics underlying disparities in breast cancer incidence and outcomes, and dysregulation in breast cancer, including predictors of metastasis and chemosensitivity
  • Study of the mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance of breast and prostate cancers to endocrine therapies, and approaches to re-sensitization


Program Thematic Areas:

The Hormone-Responsive Cancers Research Program (HRC) is divided into three Themes:

  • Carcinogenesis and Signaling
  • Cancer Genetics and Progression
  • Targeted Therapeutic Approaches

Members of the Hormone-Responsive Cancers Research Program: Listing


T1 Translational Cancer Research Program

Director: Adam Lerner, M.D.

Overview: The members of the T1 Translational Cancer Research Program focus their research on the processes involved in the mechanisms initiating malignancy and underlying malignant cell growth and metastases, and the identification of target molecules and development of targeted therapeutics.

Investigators in this Program study broad aspects of molecular mechanisms underlying cell cycle control in neoplastic and normal cells, using primary cells and cell lines, as well as genetically altered mouse models. Areas of research include cell cycle check points: cellular transformation; mitogenic signaling by growth factors and the control of tumor suppressors and oncogenes; mechanisms of DNA damage (including environmental factors) and DNA repair, growth regulation, cell death, cell adhesion, cell signaling, and gene expression and silencing.

In addition to the areas of basic research just outlined, this Program also has strong interactions with the Population Science – Cancer Disparities Research Program, through epidemiological research focusing on genomic research on cancer disparities, tobacco prevention/carcinogenesis and environmental toxins, and with the Hormone-Responsive Cancers Research Program, through genomics and the development of targeted therapeutics.

Selected Research Goals:

  • Identification of factors that regulate cancer proliferation, differentiation, and gene expression
  • Elucidate signaling and DNA damage induced by radiation, proximate carcinogens and DNA repair
  • Develop targeted therapeutic approaches based on identification of critical molecules and pathways
  • Study effects of tobacco and environmental toxins on airway cancer risk and tumorigenesis
  • Study the molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics of B-cell and T-cell lymphoid malignancies, including amyloidosis
  • Development of new technology for imaging and treatment of cancer

Program Thematic Areas:
The T1 Translational Cancer Research Program (TCR) is divided into four Themes:

  • Airway Cancers
  • Signaling and Cell Cycle Control
  • Novel Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics
  • Bio-Engineering and Novel Technology

Members of the T1 Translational Cancer Research Program: Listing

BUMC Core Resources

Clinical Research Management Core

Training Programs and Opportunities:

Residency and Fellowship Training Programs
Other Training Programs
Division of Graduate Medical Sciences

Internal Funding:

Grant Opportunities:

American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant
Department of Medicine Pilot Grants
Karin Grunebaum Cancer Research Foundation Fellowships

Primary teaching affiliate
of BU School of Medicine