One of the most promising areas of genetic research is Cancer Genomics. Thanks to the tremendous generosity of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, NorthShore University HealthSystem has established the Center for Functional Genomics to focus on this exciting field.
Every tumor has its own genetic signature. Applying the genome approach allows our physician-scientists to study thousands of genes at once, looking for a tumor's "Achilles' heel," which will ultimately lead to determining the best treatment for a particular tumor.
The former director of the Center for Functional Genomics, San Ming Wang, MD led this work from 2003 to 2010. His work focused on the transcriptome (the ‘readout’ of the genome) and methodologies to efficiently read the genome of hematopoietic stem cells, leukemia, breast cancer, fruit fly and rice. Dr. Wang developed a fast, inexpensive, high-resolution technique for analysis of the genome (Ditag Genome Scanning-DGS) (Genome Research, 2008). This method can be used to compare whole genome variation and to identify pathogenic abnormalities. He is also a leading expert in a technique called SAGE (serial analysis of gene expression) which he applied to the study of microRNA (Nature Genetics, 2008). His work on hematopoietic stem cells, the progenitors of all blood cell types, showed that half of all human genes are involved in early hematopoiesis (PNAS, 2009).
In addition to the generous start-up funding provided by the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, the Center has garnered grant support from the National Institutes of Health (National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institute of Mental Health), the Department of Defense, the Mathers Foundation, and the Center for Medical Genetics.
The Center is now beginning its search for new leadership to coincide with the next phase of genomic medicine at NorthShore.