Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program


Dr. Richard Finn


Richard Finn, M.D.

Contact via email


Edward Garon, M.D..

Contact via email


The Signal Transduction and Therapeutics (STT) research program  has 34 members drawn from four UCLA schools, representing 16 departments. The STT research program brings together basic scientists and clinicians to exchange information to further enhance the development of cancer therapies targeting growth signaling pathways, including signal transduction, cell cycle, and metabolism.

The STT research program is focused on robust translational studies that have repeatedly delivered practice-changing high impact research. Using commercially available compounds, there is an increased effort to harness STT research program discovery efforts to generate “in-house” compounds for clinical development. Additionally, the STT research program is leveraging its broad scientific base to link laboratory scientists with clinical investigators to help translate early observations into clinical opportunities and investigator-initiated studies. These include a special focus on malignancies with a high mortality in the Los Angeles County catchment area including breast, lung, and liver cancers.


The primary goal of the STT research program is to bring together basic scientists and clinicians to exchange information to further enhance the development of cancer therapies using signal transduction inhibitors. The research program is leveraging its broad scientific base to link laboratory scientists with clinical investigators to help translate early observations into clinical opportunities and investigator initiated studies with an increased effort on using UCLA-generated reagents to accomplish this.

The STT research program’s three specific aims are to:

  1. Develop and translate new therapies that target growth signaling pathways, including signal transduction, cell cycle, and metabolic pathways altered in cancer
  2. Facilitate interactions between bench and clinical research faculty to enhance the clinical translation of JCCC science
  3. Develop new therapeutics that improve the outcomes for patients living with cancer diagnoses with an increased prevalence and mortality in the Los Angeles County catchment area

Meetings and seminars

  • Participation in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center seminar series that features invited outside and local faculty
  • Quarterly meetings for new research program members to present their research
  • Quarterly seminars given by members of the research program and by invited speakers from outside institutions
  • Biannual mini-symposia on signal transduction and cancer therapeutics topics


Director Dr. Richard Finn is a Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. He has extensive experience in the use of pre-clinical models to guide clinical development. He currently splits his time between patient care and laboratory and clinical research. Finn is an internationally recognized leader in liver cancer and breast cancer research, having brought several clinical studies forward from laboratory-generated ideas. While working with Dr. Dennis Slamon in the Translational Oncology in Research Laboratory (TORL), he was directly involved in the studies that led to the development and global approval of CDK 4/6 inhibitors in breast cancer. He is the immediate past president of the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA). He is a senior editor at Clinical Cancer Research, associate editor at Breast Cancer Research, on the editorial board of the Journal of Hepatology, and an ad hoc reviewer for The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, and Lancet Oncology.

Director Dr. Edward Garon focuses on correlative research in addition to clinical investigation. A major focus of his research is specimen banking from patients in the clinic. By using data generated from patients in the clinic who consent to correlative research projects, he uses the clinic as the main source of discovery to inform the clinical trials that he conducts. This research has led to first and last author clinical and biomarker manuscripts in high impact clinical journals such as New England Journal of Medicine and Lancet, as well as contributions to many high profile institutional and collaborative publications in high impact scientific journals. Although the specimen banking is of benefit across the institution, this type of research benefits greatly from interaction with outside institutions to avoid the biases seen at a single center. As a result, Garon’s research is frequently collaborative with outside centers. He has served on several committees with the American Society of Clinical Oncology, where he is currently on the cancer research committee. He is on the immunotherapy guideline committee for the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer, the Scientific Advisory Board of advocacy group Lungevity, and has served on committees for NIH sponsored clinical trial consortiums and CTEP.

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.

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center 2021 Retreat

 Image promoting the 2021 UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Inaugural Retreat

We are excited to announce the rescheduling of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Inaugural Retreat, which will now take place virtually on May 13, 2021!

Registration is now open! Please visit our online registration site and register now!

About the Retreat

Image of cancer researcher Victor Velculescu
Keynote speaker Dr. Victor E. Velculescu

The keynote speaker for the event is Dr. Victor E. Velculescu, Professor of Oncology, Pathology and Medicine and Co-Director of Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The all-day event will bring together the broader cancer research community from across UCLA, including faculty researchers, physicians, physician-scientists, students, post-docs and allied health professionals.

This virtual retreat is an opportunity for a wide array of individuals working to accelerate discoveries that prevent and cure cancer to share progress and accomplishments, discuss challenges and future directions, learn about resources available at the Cancer Center, and develop and strengthen collaborations.

Planned activities include sessions comprised of talks on a variety of topics and an exhibitor’s room with virtual booths on UCLA cancer research-related services available to you.

How to register

Registration is required and is now open. Please visit our online registration site to reserve your spot.

We look forward to seeing you at the retreat!


7:30 a.m.

Lobby & Exhibit Hall open

8:00 a.m.

Welcome & Opening Remarks
Michael Teitell, MD, PhD
Kelsey Martin, MD, PhD


8:15 a.m.

Development of Imatinib and Ibrutinib: Historical Perspective on Targeted Therapy and the JCCC
Owen Witte, MD

8:45 a.m.

Variability in Cancer Diagnosis: Implications, Challenges, and the Promise of AI
Joann Elmore, MD, MPH

9:05 a.m.

The Simms/Mann Center for Integrative Oncology: A community based approach to whole person care
Kauser Ahmed, PhD

9:25 a.m.

SPOREs: Progress and Opportunities

  • UCLA SPORE in Prostate Cancer
  • UCLA SPORE in Brain Cancer

Rob Reiter, MD
Linda Liau, MD, PhD, MBA

9:55 a.m.

Coffee break


10:10 a.m.

What Can The Cancer Center Do For “U”?

  • JCCC Funding Mechanisms: Seed Grants and More
  • JCCC Shared Resources Overview
  • JCCC Activities and Support Services
  • UC-Cancer Consortium

Heather Christofk, PhD
Melissa Fitzmaurice Neligan, MPH, CRA
Zoran Galic, PhD
Michael Teitell MD, PhD

10:30 a.m.

Advancing Science to Address Pressing Cancer Needs in our Communities
Roshan Bastani, PhD
Beth Glenn, PhD
Alison Herrmann, PhD

10:55 a.m.

Early Detection of Cancer Using Noninvasive Liquid Biopsies
Victor E. Velculescu, MD, PhD

12:00 p.m.

Lunch Break and Networking
Informational Booths open for viewing in Exhibit Hall


12:30 p.m.

Engineering Next‐Generational CAR‐T Cells for Cancer Immunotherapy
Yvonne Chen, PhD

1:00 p.m.

The Evolutionary Origins of Cancer Lethality
Paul Boutros, PhD, MBA

1:30 p.m.

Coffee break


1:40 p.m.

Development of Breast Cancer Therapies: Herceptin, palbociclib
Dennis Slamon, MD, PhD

2:10 p.m.

Fighting Melanoma with the Immune System Melanoma
Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD

2:40 p.m.

Entrepreneurship and the Business of Science
Arie Belldegrun, MD
Christi Shaw, MBA, CEO of Kite Pharma
Craig Gordon, MD, Partner, Capital Research Global Investors
David Chang MD, PhD, CEO of Allogene Pharma in SF
Helen Kim, MBA, SMD of Vida Ventures in SM

3:25 p.m.

Closing Remarks
Michael Teitell, MD, PhD

3:30 p.m.

Retreat ends

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