Research Programs


UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center currently operates eight research programs organized to foster excellence in interdisciplinary and collaborative research across academic units. Each program provides a platform for colleagues with similar scientific interests, allowing them to exchange information and ideas, facilitate and promote their research interactions and provide access to shared resources.

We are fortunate at UCLA that the Medical School, the College of Letters and Sciences, the Dental School, the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing are all located on a single campus, along with both our children's hospital and main hospital. Select faculty from these academic units are members of the Cancer Center, as are a number of full-time faculty at our affiliated institutions.

Cancer and Stem Cell Biology

Seeks to understand the basic mechanisms that regulate cancer progression, characterize alterations in cancer cells versus their normal counterpart, and incorporate emerging technologies in the field to promote interaction with our clinical components.

Cancer Molecular Imaging

Harnesses molecular imaging to study cancer in living organisms, first in laboratory models and ultimately, in people. Fosters collaboration between researchers from diverse specialties, including mathematicians, biologists with clinicians.

Cancer Nanotechnology

Engineered devices and materials of 100 nanometers or less in size are showing potential in the detection, diagnosis, tracking and treatment of cancer, and these approaches are in their formative stages. This research program connects physicians and scientists from diverse disciplines in the common pursuit of improved understanding and outcomes in cancer.

Gene Regulation

Misregulated gene expression plays a contributing role in all cancer. The goal of this research program is to understand fundamental aspects of gene expression and apply that knowledge to diverse forms of cancer. It also provides the expertise and resources needed by other programs to understand cancer at its most fundamental level.

Healthy and At-Risk Populations

Focuses on prevention and detection of cancer and applying new findings in the basic biologic and behavioral sciences to intervention research with clinical and community populations. A major focus is to bring cancer prevention and control to low income, minority and underserved populations to reduce cancer-related disparities.

Patients and Survivors

Investigates methods of measuring and improving quality of life and quality of cancer care. Research targets patients and their families and caregivers, and includes behavioral intervention research, assessment of quality of life and other health care outcomes, nutritional intervention research and symptom control research.

Signal Transduction and Therapeutics

Investigates 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.

Tumor Immunology

Focuses on the immune system and how it relates to cancer prevention and new and innovative treatments. Also coordinates the basic and translational immunology curriculum and related research training efforts of all of its members across the UCLA scientific community.

Research Program Objectives

The objective of our research programs is to provide a forum in which faculty members can advance the understanding of fundamental mechanisms relating to cancer by making their combined research efforts "greater than the sum of the parts.” By providing structured activities such as mini-symposia, retreats, workshops, access to impact and seed grants, coordinated training grant programs and courses in various aspects of oncology, the program areas bring together members of the UCLA faculty with overlapping and complementary interests. These gatherings provide forums to discuss the applications of research to cancer-related problems, opportunities to learn about related work being carried out on this large campus, information about shared resources and information about the availability of alternative sources of support for cancer-directed initiatives.

The program areas make a difference if their activities:

  1. Initiate new collaborations in cancer research
  2. Shift the current UCLA faculty to more cancer-oriented issues
  3. Help to attract to UCLA new faculty who carry out cancer research
  4. Facilitate the acquisition of new information pertinent to ongoing cancer research by our members
  5. Help to improve the research infrastructure at UCLA
  6. Foster meaningful translational research that brings basic sciences observations into application in clinical contexts

Our research programs also make a difference by helping the Directorate of the Cancer Center, the Deans of the School of Medicine, the Dental School, the College of Letters and Sciences, the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing to recognize and understand the needs of the faculty for facilitating cancer research at UCLA. Through the research program directors, the members of these research programs are able to define research areas in which we need to strengthen our representation, to identify deficiencies in our cancer education programs for graduate students and medical fellows, to identify needed improvements in our shared resources and other aspects of our research infrastructure and to coordinate efforts in obtaining training grants and fellowship programs.