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Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Tomorrow's cancer treatments and prevention strategies often begin in the labs of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers.  Our members are dedicated to working together as a team to discover new approaches for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer.

Research Programs

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's eight formal research programs focus on the discovery of new approaches for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer. These active and collaborative research programs generate approximately $142 million in annual research support from public and private sources.

More than 300 members from across Vanderbilt, the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Meharry Medical College, and Tennessee State University participate in these programs, as well as our many other cancer-focused research centers and initiatives. 

Specialized Programs of Research Excellence

The National Cancer Institute’s Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) grants promote and speed up the exchange between interdisciplinary research in the laboratory to the treatment of patients in the clinical care setting. SPORE programs allow laboratory and clinical scientists to work collaboratively to plan, design, and implement research programs with the greatest potential to impact cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center holds two NCI SPORE grants supporting research in gastrointestinal (GI) and breast cancers.

Collaborative Research

In addition to our formal research programs and SPORE grants, Vanderbilt-Ingram is home to several major epidemiologic cohort studies and a number of interdisciplinary, translational research initiatives.

SHARED RESOURCES

Vanderbilt-Ingram supports a number of Shared Resources that provide investigators access to cutting edge technologies that are impractical to set up in individual laboratories. In addition to providing cancer center members access to state-of-the-art instrumentation and methodology, the Shared Resources facilitate technology transfer by holding workshops for members and other Vanderbilt faculty.

The Animal and Human Imaging Shared Resource enables Cancer Center investigators to execute high throughput, quantitative and noninvasive in vivo imaging studies on animal models, apply and validate MRI, optical, CT, PET, SPECT and ultrasound methods for noninvasive detection and characterization in small animals and incorporate emerging and clinical relevant quantitative MRI and PET protocols into Phase I, II and III clinical trials in a centralized, cost effective manner.

The Antibody Production Shared Resource is a dedicated high-throughput facility established to generate monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies and to make a broad range of antibody-related technologies cost effective and readily available to Cancer Center investigators.

The Bioanalytics and Proteomics Shared Resource provides unique and comprehensive mass spectrometry services to the cancer center research community.

  • The Mass Spectrometry Core Laboratory provides instrumentation for structural analysis of biological molecules and qualitative and quantitative assays of chemotherapeutic agents and metabolites in physiological fluids. 

  • The Proteomics Core provides state of the art instrumentation and expertise in analytical proteomics, proteome profiling, and imaging. Proteomics Laboratory staff provide consultation on experimental design and sample preparation.

  • The Tissue Protein/Profiling Core offers a variety of services in order to determine the proteomic profiles of tissue, serum, and other biological fluids using MALDI mass spectrometry.  The services include tissue profiling, tissue imaging, 1D and 2D robotic biofluid fractionation and protein profiling, and multidimensional LC MS/MS “shotgun” proteomics analysis of biofluids and tissue homogenates. 

The overall goal of the Cell Imaging Shared Resource is to supply cancer center researchers with access to cutting edge technology and expert technical support for microscopic observation and analysis of tissue and cellular anatomy and physiology related to cancer research. Specifically, the CISR maintains multiple, modern and reliable state-of-the-art fluorescence microscopes, an electron microscope, and associated image processing systems.

The Chemical Synthesis and High-Throughput Analytics Shared Resource provides a full range of services, from utilization of equipment and pilot assay development, to a full screen including hit validation/optimization. The combined technologies have revolutionized the process of drug and biological probe discovery used for the development of clinically useful therapeutics and diagnostics and for advancing basic biology and determining the functional roles of novel genes, proteins and signaling molecules. 

  • The Chemical Synthesis Core supports the Vanderbilt community in all aspects of medicinal and organic synthesis. The core works independently or in collaboration with the VICB High Throughput Screening Center on the synthesis of literature-cited compounds (including patented ones) as well as full scale lead optimization of a compound.

  • The High Throughput Screening Facility provides consultation in assay design and development, assay validation, high-throughput screening (HTS) and automated data analysis. Its compound collection can be accessed independently of screening, and the facility offers HTS compatible supplies for testing and validation. Training services are also provided to allow for walkup use of instrumentation.

The Flow Cytometry Shared Resource is a multidisciplinary resource with custom equipment capable of polychromatic analytical flow cytometry, high-speed sorting with aerosol containment, magnetic sorting, ELISPOTs, multiplexed cytokines, and other assays and a schedule with expanded access for investigators.  This resource has been heavily focused on work that is highly relevant to the mission of the Cancer Center

The Genomics Shared Resource provides Cancer Center members with cutting-edge services and support related to a battery of contemporary genomic technologies including microarray, deep-sequencing, and RNAi screening efforts. Our mission is to comprehensively support the genomic needs of cancer center investigators with the most efficient and cost-effective technologies available.

The Quantitative Sciences Shared Resource provides professional expertise in biostatistics and bioinformatics for all cancer center projects, investigators and participants.  The resource develops and evaluates tools for laboratory research, clinical trials, and genomic and proteomic research. Our services include: 

  • Experimental design 
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Data acquisition and database development
  • Statistical and bioinformatic analysis and interpretation
  • Education in biostatistical and bioinformatics methods

The Research Informatics Shared Resource provides cancer center investigators with common informatics services and a flexible physical and electronic infrastructure for acquiring, storing, communicating and analyzing research data. Services include: software/application development and support; research infrastructure; data storage; technology support; support for research projects requiring high-security standards like FISMA; and clinical trials management and biorepository software.

Frequently Used Informatics Tools

Request technology and application support through our Support Portal:

The Survey and Biospecimen Shared Resource provides high-quality survey and laboratory services to support Vanderbilt investigators conducting population-based research, as well as "wet lab" capabilities for investigators without these facilities. 

  • The Survey Research Shared Resource offers a wide range of research services to support survey research, including development and implementation of telephone, web and mixed mode surveys. 
  • The Biospecimen Laboratory provides laboratory services including biospecimen processing, storage and retrieval, DNA/RNA extraction, and biospecimen requisitions from three large prospective cohort studies and several large case-control studies.

Cancer center investigators benefit from the cost-effective services of the Transgenic Mouse/ES Cell Shared Resource focusing on the generation, maintenance and long-term storage of germline-altered mice. Moreover, the technology base supported by this resource is vitally important for enhancing the growth of stem cell research that use not only mESCs, but also human ES cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

The Translational Pathology Shared Resource focuses on providing human tissue samples and histology services to support translational and preclinical aspects of cancer research allowing cancer center investigators the opportunity to apply basic research findings to the investigation of human neoplasia.

The Innovative Translational Research Shared Resource (ITR) partners with oncologists and laboratory and non-laboratory researchers to guide, manage, and facilitate pre-clinical and clinical trial laboratory discoveries.

Our goal is to advance the translation of research into improved anti-cancer therapies.

Our broad experience in cancer clinical trials, genomics, biochemistry, and cell biology allows us to pursue your unique research project. We leverage ITR resources, other Vanderbilt Shared Resources, other academic institutions, and/or companies to achieve your goals.

Our Clinical Trials Shared Resource and Clinical Trials Coordinating Center assist cancer center investigators in developing, activating and completing scientifically meritorious clinical trials.

Membership and Pilot Funding 

Learn about the benefits and criteria for membership – and pilot funding opportunities to support exciting research initiatives by new or established faculty.

Membership

Interested in becoming a cancer center member? Learn more about the types and benefits membership.

Funding

Have an exciting new research idea and looking for funding? Explore our pilot funding opportunities. 

Research Advocacy

Cancer survivors and caregivers provide a unique perspective and play an important role in helping researchers bring the best science to those affected by cancer.  The Research Advocacy program provides opportunities for advocates to participate and contribute to the research process and outcomes for future patients. 

Seminars & Events

Vanderbilt-Ingram sponsors a very active Seminar Program, including endowed lectures and minisymposia held throughout the year.  Through the annual Orrin Ingram Distinguished Lectureship series, distinguished extramural investigators present research discoveries that have been seminal to major advances in cancer diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms of tumorigenesis.

In addition, our Annual Scientific Retreat brings together students, postdocs, fellows and principal investigators from across the cancer center for a minisymposium, shared resource displays, and a poster session. Extramural scientists deliver lectures in the minisymposium and serve as judges for prizes given to students, postdocs, and fellows at the poster session.

Research News

November 12, 2018

Evading cell death

A recent study reveals how cellular structures called 'stress granules' help cells evade death. The findings may lead to new strategies for improving the efficacy of cancer therapy.
November 5, 2018

Clues to bone metastases

A recent study by Rachelle Johnson, Ph.D., and colleagues looked at factors influencing the ability of breast cancer cells to colonize bone and enter and exit a dormant state.

Seminars & Lectures

Calendar
Nov
16
“MBNL1 regulates critical splicing patterns in MLL-rearranged leukemia”

16 November 2018

Calendar
Nov
22
VICC Seminar Series

22 November 2018

Calendar
Nov
28
“Nature’s Design for a Biochemical MIMO Signal Integrator”

28 November 2018

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Nov
29
“Making Precision Medicine a Reality in Oncology: What’s Next?”

29 November 2018