Functional genomics, experimental models and cancer


Session type:

William Hahn
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA


Recent advances in genomics now make it possible to consider enumerating all of the genetic lesions in specific cancers. These approaches will yield critical information regarding the identity, number, and types of alterations found in human tumours and are increasingly being applied prospectively to patient samples in the clinic. At the same time complementary approach to decipher the molecular basis of malignant transformation depends upon the application of genome scale tools to annotate the function of genes involved in cancer initiation and progression. Over the past several years, we have developed genome scale RNAi libraries and open reading frame expression libraries that permit a systematic evaluation of genes involved in cancer initiation and maintenance. Using these libraries, we have now performed screens in a panel of human cancer cell lines to systematically identify cancer vulnerabilities. By combining these functional approaches with information derived from mapping the structural abnormalities present in cancer genomes, we have identified several new oncogenes that contribute to cancer development. The ability to systematically manipulate gene expression at genome scale now provides opportunities to investigate the function of genes involved in cancer initiation and maintenance, which will provide a framework for therapeutic and prevention strategies.