Skip to main content

Cancer Systems Biology Consortium

Cancer is a complex disease system involving multiple molecular, genetic, and cellular events. From its early initiation through progression and metastasis, cancer can adapt and evolve as a result of both internal and external signals. These properties make cancer difficult to predict, prevent, and treat. There has been significant progress in characterizing the genetics of cancer, as well as the downstream effects on the molecular and cellular pathways that are critical for the initiation and progression of cancer. However, studies focused on the role of one gene have highlighted the need to understand cancers as integrated systems of genes, networks, and intercellular interactions.

Cancer systems biology is uniquely poised to address the complexity associated with cancer through its unique integration of experimental biology and computational and mathematical analysis. Instead of viewing cancer through the lens of a single mutation or alteration, the goal of cancer systems biology is to provide a birds eye view of the changing cancer ecosystem, thus allowing cancer biologists and oncologists to understand and predict how one alteration effects an entire tumor system. The multidisciplinary Cancer Systems Biology Consortium, which includes cancer biologists, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, and oncologists, aim to tackle the most perplexing issues in cancer to increase our understanding of tumor biology, treatment options, and patient outcome.

The Impact of Cancer Systems Biology on Cancer Research

There has been an explosion in the quantity of available experimental data from high-throughput technologies, such as genomic sequencing, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and proteomics. Additionally, targeted experiments on a smaller scale have provided important information about complex interactions within and between cells. Systems analyses and predictive modeling are necessary to integrate across these datasets that span different length and time scales to convert them into knowledge. For ten years from 2004-2014, DCB supported the Integrative Cancer Biology Program (ICBP), a precursor to the current Cancer Systems Biology Consortium. The ICBP brought together cancer biologists and oncologists with computer scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to tackle important cancer questions including the identification of tumor master transcriptional regulators, the role of microRNAs in cancer progression and metastasis, the development of drug resistance in heterogeneous tumor contexts, and optimization of combination therapies for cancer treatment. It is envisioned that the past successes of cancer systems biology will encourage investigators to bring these tools to bear on emerging and difficult cancer questions that will require a systems approach to fully comprehend.

Funding Opportunities

The Cancer Systems Biology Consortium (CSBC) consists of specialized U01 Research Projects, U54 CSBC Research Centers, and a U24 Coordinating Center. An ongoing funding announcement for the CSBC U01 component can be found at the following link:

  • Emerging Areas in Cancer Systems Biology (U01 Research Projects): PAR-16-131 (expired)
  • Emerging Areas in Cancer Systems Biology (U01 Research Projects): PAR-19-287

Currently Funded Projects

Research Centers awarded grants in the first round of RFA-CA-15-014 include:

Institution Principal Investigators Center Title
Columbia University Dr. Andrea Califano and Dr. Barry Honig Center for Cancer Systems Therapeutics (CaST)
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Dr. Christina Leslie and Dr. Alexander Rudensky The CSBC Research Center for Cancer Systems Immunology at MSKCC
Stanford University Dr. Sylvia Plevritis and Dr. Garry Nolan Modeling the Role of Lymph Node Metastases in Tumor-Mediated Immune Suppression
Yale University Dr. Andre Levchenko Systems Analysis of Phenotypic Switch in Control of Cancer Invasion

 Research Centers awarded grants in the second round of RFA-CA-15-014 include:

Institution Principal Investigators Center Title
City of Hope Dr. Andrea Bild Combating Subclonal Evolution of Resistant Cancer Phenotypes
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dr. Scott Manalis and Dr. Doug Lauffenburger Quantitative and Functional Characterization of Therapeutic Resistance in Cancer
Oregon Health & Science University Dr. Joe Gray, Dr. Emic Demir, Dr. Rosalie Sears, and Dr. Claire Tomlin Measuring, Modeling and Controlling Heterogeneity
University of California, San Francisco Dr. Nevan Krogan and Dr. Trey Ideker Research Center for Cancer Systems Biology: Cancer Cell Map Initiative
University of Texas Health Science Center Dr. Tim Huang, Dr. Victor Jin and Dr. Qianben Wang Systems Analysis of Epigenomic Architecture in Cancer Progression

Research Centers awarded grants in the third round of RFA-CA-15-014 include:

Institution Principal Investigators Center Title
Arizona State University Dr. Carlo Maley and Dr. Darryl Shibata Arizona Cancer and Evolution Center (ACE)
Harvard Medical School Dr. Peter Sorger Center for Cancer Systems Pharmacology (CCSP)
University of California, Irvine Dr. John Lowengrub, Dr. Arthur Lander and Dr. Marian Waterman

Complexity, Cooperation and Community in Cancer

Vanderbilt University Dr. Vito Quaranta Phenotype Heterogeneity and Dynamics in Small Cell Lung Cancer

Research Projects awarded grants under PAR-16-131 include:

Institution Principal Investigators Research Project Title
Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories Dr. Steven Wiley, Dr. Wei-Jun Qian, and Dr. Herbert Sauro Reverse Sensitivity Analysis for Identifying Predictive Proteomics Signatures of Cancer
City of Hope Dr. Peter Lee, Dr. Russell Rockne, and Dr. Andrei Rodin Experimental-Computational Synthesis of Altered Immune Signaling in Breast Cancer
Columbia University  Dr. Raul Rabadan and Dr. Teresa Palomero Single-Cell Characterization of Tumor and Microenvironment Co-Evolution in Peripheral T-Cell Lymphomas
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Dr. Marc Vidal, Dr. Martha Bulyk, and Dr. Juan Fuxman Rewiring of Regulatory Networks in Breast Cancer by Transcription Factor Isoforms
Georgia Institute of Technology Dr. Melissa Kemp and Dr. Cristina Furdui Model-Based Prediction of Redox-Modulated Responses to Cancer Treatments
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute Dr. Alexander Anderson, Dr. Scott Antonia, and Dr. Robert Gatenby Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics of NSCLC to Immunotherapy: Response and Resistance
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dr. Doug Lauffenburger, Dr. Wilhelm Haas and Dr. Kevin Haigis Systems Approaches to Understanding the Relationships Between Genotype, Signaling, and Therapeutic Efficacy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dr. Forest White and Dr. Nataly Kravchenko-Balasha Identification of Adaptive Response Mechanisms in Breast Cancer by Information Theory and Proteomics
Mayo Clinic Arizona Dr. Kristin Swanson, Dr. Leland Hu, Dr. Joseph Mitchell, and Dr. Nhan Tran Quantifying Multiscale Competitive Landscapes of Clonal Diversity in Glioblastoma
University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Aaron Meyer, Dr. Eric Haura, and Dr. Forest White Precision Lung Cancer Therapy Design through Multiplexed Adapter Measurement
University of Colorado Denver Dr. James Costello and Dr. Scott Cramer Systems Analysis of Aggressive Prostate Cancer Pathology
University of North Carolina Dr. Charles Perou & Dr. Timothy Elston Predictive Modeling of the EGFR-MAPK Pathway for Triple Negative Breast Cancer Patients
University of Pennsylvania Dr. Arjun Raj, Dr. Ravi Radhakrishnan, and Dr. Ashani Weeraratna A Plasticity and Reprogramming Paradigm for Therapy Resistance at the Single Cell Level
University of Southern California Dr. Stacey Finley and Dr. Shannon Mumenthaler Multiscale Systems Biology Modeling to Exploit Tumor-Stromal Metabolic Crosstalk in Colorectal Cancer
University of Virginia Dr. Kevin Janes An Integrated Systems Approach for Incompletely Penetrant Onco-Phenotypes
University of Virginia Dr. Matthew Lazzara Optimal Control Models of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition for the Design of Pancreas Cancer Combination Therapy
Vanderbilt University Dr. Vito Quaranta and Dr. Carlos Lopez Phenotype Transitions in Small Cell Lung Cancer

Research Projects awarded grants under PAR-19-287 include:

Institution Principal Investigators Research Project Title
Boston University Dr. Gerald Denis, Dr. Andrew Emili, Dr. Stefano Monti, and Dr. Senthil Muthuswamy  Multiscale Analysis of Metabolic Inflammation as a Driver of Breast Cancer
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Dr. Kai Tan and Dr. Sarah Tasian Towards Rational Design of Combination Therapeutic Targets
Houston Methodist Research Institute Dr. Stephen Wong and Dr. Xiang Zhang Spatiotemporal Modeling of Cancer-Niche Interactions in Breast Cancer Bone Metastasis
University of Michigan Dr. Trachette Jackson Multiscale Computational Models Guided By Emerging Cellular Dynamics Quantification for Predicting Optimum Immune Checkpoint and Targeted Therapy Schedules
University of Texas, Austin Dr. Amy Brock and Dr. Thomas Yankeelov  Systems Approaches to Understanding Subpopulation Heterogeneity in Therapeutic Resistance
Yale University Dr. Kathryn Miller-Jensen and Dr. Marcus Bosenberg Systems Analysis of Cell-Cell Communication Networks and Immune Activity in the Melanoma Tumor Microenvironment

The Coordinating Center awarded for RFA-CA-15-015, which will contribute to the research missions of the Cancer Systems Biology Consortium and the Physical Sciences-Oncology Network is:

Institution Principal Investigator Center Title
Sage Bionetworks Dr. Justin Guinney Coordination Center for Open Collaboration in Systems Biology

Additional Information about the Consortium can be found on the CSBC website maintained by the Coordinating Center.

Several U01 Research Projects that were previously associated with the Integrative Cancer Biology Program were the initial members of the CSBC. These projects include those funded under the Bridging the Gap Between Cancer Mechanism and Population Science and the Collaborative Research in Integrative Cancer Biology U01 programs (no receipt dates remain for these programs).