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Tumor Microenvironment Network (TMEN)

Immunofluorescent image of a tumor microenvironment

The Tumor Microenvironment Network, or TMEN, was a program launched by the NCI in 2006 (RFA CA06-014) and reissued in 2010 (RFA CA10-021) that funded research in basic cancer biology to study the mechanisms of tumor-host interactions in human cancer.

Better understanding the mechanisms of a tumor’s interaction with its surrounding environment was achieved by:

  • Generating a comprehensive understanding of stromal composition
  • Understanding the role of stroma in normal tissues
  • Discerning the role of stroma in tumor initiation, progression and metastases, as well as responses to treatment

About TMEN

The initiative funded 20 collaborative Center grants across the country and 10 collaborative U01 grants (funded through PAR-09-026 and PAR-11-146) that brought together a TMEN key investigator and scientists with expertise in other biological systems or organ sites not yet being modeled or studied within TMEN to form a new project in tumor microenvironment research.

TMEN was designed as an infrastructure that established repositories of critical reagents, resources, and information to promote and facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations and progress in understanding the role of the tumor microenvironment. Through this initiative, DCB supported research that led to a more comprehensive understanding of the composition of the stroma in normal tissues and advanced the field by furthering scientific understanding regarding the mechanisms of tumor-stromal interactions in human cancer.

TMEN Resources

TMEN generated a number of resources and reagents that are now available to NCI-funded cancer researchers, including extracellular matrix, antibodies, bone marrow cells, and RCAS constructs.

For more information, see the Reagents Available to NCI-funded Researchers section on DCB Research Resources.

TMEN White Paper

At their annual meetings in 2015 and 2016, members of TMEN reviewed accomplishments of the network, identified challenges in the field, and shared future research opportunities. The summary from these discussions can be found in a Cancer Research article.

Past Projects 

TMEN U54 Centers (Phase I)
Institution Principal Investigator(s) Project Title
Albert Einstein College of Medicine John Condeelis Novel Methods for Detecting Cell Interactions in the Tumor Microenvironment
Columbia University Health Science Timothy Wang The Role of Inflammation and Stroma in Digestive Cancer
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Eric Holland Tumor Microenvironment Interactions in Brain Tumors
Stanford University Michael Clarke Molecular and Functional Characterization of Colon Tumor Cancer Stem Cells and Stroma
University of California – Lawrence Berkeley Lab Mina Bissell Bioengineering 3-D Models for Breast Cancer Therapy
University of Washington Stephen Plymate Significance of Microenvironment for Prostate Cancer Initiation and Progression
Vanderbilt University Lynn Matrisian Paracrine TGF-Beta Signaling in Tumor Initiation and Progression
TMEN U54 Centers (Phase II)
Institution Principal Investigator(s) Project Title
Albert Einstein College of Medicine John Condeelis,
Julio Aguirre-Ghiso,
James Castracane,
Patricia Keely,
Vladislav Verkhusha
Tumor microenvironments determing migration, dissemination and dormancy
Children's Hospital of Los Angeles Yves Declerck Center for Environment-Mediated Drug Resistance in Pediatric Cancer
Columbia University Health Science Timothy Wang Myofibroblasts in Gastrointestinal Cancers
Fred Hutchison Cancer Center Eric Holland Role of the Perivascular Microenvironment in Primary and Metastatic Brain Tumors
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Richard Hynes Impact of Cellular and Extracellular Host Components on Tumor Progression
MD Anderson Cancer Center Andrew Futreal,
Keith Flaherty
Role of Tumor Stroma in Therapeutic Response and Resistance
MD Anderson Cancer Center Raghu Kalluri,
David Scadden
Stromal Regulation of Bone Metastasis
Oregon Health & Science University Lisa Coussens,
Matthew Krummel
Leukocyte Biomarkers for Predicting Human Breast Cancer Outcomes
University of Michigan Russell Taichman,
Yusuke Shiozawa
Mechanisms of Prostate Cancer Dormancy in the Bone Marrow Niche
University of Nebraska Medical Center Surinder Batra Pancreatic Tumor Micro-environment Network
University of California, San Francisco Gabriele Bergers,
Valerie Weaver
Biophysical and molecular dialogue of glioma cells and the brain microenvironment
Collaborative U01 Projects
Institution Principal Investigator(s) Project Title
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Kornelia Polyak,
Mina Bissell,
Jeffrey Pollard
Myoepithelial cell differentiation defects in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
Emory University Dolores Hambardzumyan,
Eric Holland
Non-Neoplastic Cell Types Dictate Gliomagenesis and Response to Therapy
Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis Theresa Guise,
Neil Bhowmick
Differential TGF-Beta Signaling in Bone Microenviroment: Impact on Tumor Growth
Johns Hopkins University Kenneth Pienta,
David Rowley
Reactive Stroma and Tumor Associated Macrophages in Prostate Cancer Progression
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Susan Erdman,
Timothy Wang
GI Tract Dysbiosis and Breast Cancer
MD Anderson Cancer Center Raghu Kalluri,
Harold Moses,
Valerie Weaver
Role of Fibroblasts, Myeloid Cells and Matrix in PDAC
University of California Los Angeles Owen Witte,
Hong Wu,
Peter Nelson
Influences of the Microenvironment on Cancer Stem Cells
University of Pennsylvania Anil Rustgi,
Umar Mahmood,
Timothy Wang
Inflammation and the esophageal tumor microenvironment
Vanderbilt University David Gorden,
Harold Moses
Molecular Determinants of Tumor Progression in A Steatolic Liver Microenvironment
Weill Medical College of Cornell University David Lyden,
Mina Bissell
Characterization and Functional Analysis of Breast Cancer Secreted Exosomes in Malignant Progression
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