Grant Launches the Cornell Center on the Physics of Cancer Metabolism

Cornell Chronicle

By Syl Kacapyr

The mechanisms controlling how breast cancer develops, spreads to other parts of the body and responds to therapy remain poorly understood, but researchers from the College of Engineering and Weill Cornell Medicine hope to change that through the Center on the Physics of Cancer Metabolism – a new multi-institutional translational research unit to be established with a National Cancer Institute grant.

On Aug. 25 New York Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer announced first-year funding for the center of $1.9 million. The grant could total $9.3 million over five years.

Led by Claudia Fischbach-Teschl, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University, and Dr. Lewis Cantley, the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, other partners include researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of California, San Francisco. The partnership will also foster collaborations across the Ithaca campus among researchers from the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The goal of the center is to combine the strengths of different interdisciplinary research groups to gain unprecedented understanding of the biological and physical mechanisms regulating how tumors function and metastasize, or spread, in the human body’s microenvironment.

Cantley’s expertise in cancer metabolism, which has led to several breakthroughs in the field, dovetail with Fischbach-Teschl’s acumen in engineering of cancer models to enable the team to explore tumor development, progression and metastasis from a completely new perspective. Complemented by other investigators’ expertise in micro- and nanofabrication, imaging and computational approaches, they can monitor and predict tumor metabolism and cell migration, and test drugs or other therapies in a patient-specific manner.

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