Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program


Dr. Richard Finn Dr. Heather Christofk


Richard Finn, M.D.

Contact via email


Heather Christofk, Ph.D.

Contact via email


The Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program investigates the multiple signaling pathways and related genetic alterations that occur during formation of cancer cells and tumors. Signal transduction pathway studies are carried out by employing phospho-protein analysis, cell cycle, gene expression studies and chemical genetics approaches.

For more information, please visit the research program's website at


  1. To understand signal transduction events in the development of cancer by identifying new genes involved in cell signaling pathways
  2. To develop new methods to detect changes in signaling events
  3. To develop inhibitors of signal transduction that could lead to new anti-cancer therapies

Meetings and Events

  • Quarterly meetings for new members to present their research
  • Quarterly seminars given by members of the program area
  • Quarterly seminars given by invited speakers from outside institutions
  • Twice a year mini-symposia on Signal Transduction and Cancer Therapeutics


Dr. Richard Finn, director of the Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program, was an undergraduate at UCLA, where he was involved with early laboratory studies investigating the HER2 oncogene and the development of monoclonal antibodies to this target in breast cancer with Dr. Dennis Slamon. He participated in the pre-clinical studies that defined the clinical candidate that eventually humanized and became the FDA approved agent trastuzumab (Herceptin). He went on to medical school at USC then returned to UCLA for his clinical training in internal medicine, and then hematology and oncology. Finn's research interests are focused in the development of targeted therapeutics for solid tumors across histologies to support the larger efforts of the department.

Dr. Heather Christofk, co-director of the Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program, earned a B.S. in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCLA in 2001, and a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology at Harvard in 2007.  As a graduate student at Harvard working with Dr. Lewis Cantley, she identified a key protein in cancer metabolism (the M2 splice isoform of pyruvate kinase) and the mechanism by which it contributes to cancer cell proliferation by promoting anabolic glucose metabolism. Christofk's research interests are focused on understanding the role of metabolic transitions in cellular transformation, virus infection and differentiation. She is a Searle Scholar, and recipient of the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award.

Upcoming Events

The following list is for upcoming events and seminars of notable interest to the Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program and its members. This calendar is updated automatically.

For a list of all upcoming JCCC events (including other research programs, patients and survivors, and the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation), please visit the Events Calendar.

Insights into Cancer: Leukemia Treatment in 2018 **CANCELLED**

***IMPORTANT NOTE*** Due to speaker illness, the January Insights into Cancer seminar has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience, and no new date has been scheduled as this time.

Once a month, the Simms/Mann–UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology presents Insights Into Cancer, a free public lecture series for cancer patients, their families and the community. Each lecture features a leading professional who provides up-to-date information, practical advice and answers to cancer-related questions.

January 9, 2018

Leukemia treatment in 2018

UCLA Assistant Professor of Medicine and medical oncologist Sarah Larson, M.D., discusses the different types of leukemia, standard treatment approaches, and the expanding novel therapeutics for this disease. Leukemia research is rapidly evolving as we learn more about the biology of each type of leukemia. Several new, exciting therapies currently in clinical trials are highlighted. In memory of Dr. Murray A. Geisler, who passed away from Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in 1985, and who was treated by a dedicated team at UCLA.

6:45 – 7:00: Arrival & Refreshments
7:00 – 7:15: Anne Coscarelli, Ph.D, Introduction to Center
7:15 – 7:20: Anne Coscarelli, Ph.D., Speaker Introduction
7:20 – 8:55: Speaker Presentation, Q&A
8:55 – 9:00: Closing

Insights Into Cancer lectures are held in the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center Auditorium, B Level, Room B130, 757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095.

UCLA parking is $12 and is wheelchair accessible. Attendees can park in the medical plaza, or take advantage of the valet parking at the front of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

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