June 20, 2002
University Receives Grant to Study Oral Cancer
CHICAGO— Oral cancer currently accounts for almost 6 percent of all malignancies, and its incidence is increasing worldwide. At least 90 percent of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas that originate from the oral epithelium, a thin lining of cells that covers tissues in the mouth. These tumors often spread throughout the head and neck and are associated with high rates of illness and death.
Yet, just how oral tumor cells become metastatic and spread throughout the body is not well understood.
To address this question, a group of Northwestern University researchers has been collaborating on four interrelated studies, funded by a $5.6 million renewal of a Program Project Grant (PPG) from the National Institutes of Health, to determine the precise molecular biologic mechanisms underlying the development and spread of oral cancer.
The principal investigator on the PPG is Jonathan Jones, PhD, professor of cell and molecular biology at The Feinberg School of Medicine, who also heads one of the four study projects in the grant.
Other researchers on this PPG are Robert D. Goldman, PhD, Stephen Walter Ranson Professor and chair of cell and molecular biology; Sharon Stack, PhD, associate professor of cell and molecular biology; and Kathleen J. Green, PhD, Joseph L. Mayberry Professor of Pathology and Toxicology and professor of dermatology.
All four researchers are members of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
The original $2.3 million PPG enabled Dr. Jones and colleagues to begin to solve the central problem of oral cell migration leading to tumor cell dissemination by dissecting the molecular mechanisms of cell-matrix, cell-cell, and cytoskeleton interactions and dynamics in stationary and migrating oral epithelial cells