The deadliest aspect of cancer is its ability to metastasize – migrate from a primary tumor to multiple distant sites. This is often the final, lethal step in the progression of solid tumors. To metastasize, a tumor cell has to learn to survive independently, enter the blood stream, travel to and recognize a potential new home, leave the blood stream, establish itself in a new setting, invade nearby tissues and attract its own blood supply to allow growth. Although a distinct, complicated, multi-step physiological process with its own dynamics, metastasis has remained largely unexplored and thus poorly understood. Importantly, each step in this complicated process provides a therapeutic target.
The Center brings together researchers from various areas of expertise, including molecular and cell biology, bioinformatics, chemistry, genetics, imaging and medicine to dissect the basic mechanisms of metastasis using sophisticated, state-of-the-art approaches. Ultimately, the Center aims to further our understanding of what fundamentally controls cancer’s deadly spread and translate laboratory concepts to novel therapeutics to treat and prevent metastasis.
Co-Directing the Center are Geoffrey Greene, Ph.D., Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor, Ben May Department for Cancer Research, and Ralph Weichselbaum, M. D., Daniel K. Ludwig Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation & Cellular Oncology. The Metastasis Center is linked to the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is directed by Michelle Le Beau, Ph.D.