University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Vermont Cancer Center

Program Strategy

Program Strategy

Our Vermont Cancer Center (VCC) programs have been developed to be aligned with the revised expectations and guidelines of the National Cancer Institute and to be maximally supportive of the perspectives, expertise, experience and credentials of the VCC membership. Emphasis is on facilitating translation of discoveries from innovative basic science and translational investigation to clinical trials. The ultimate goal is to add novel dimensions to standards of patient care. Through partnerships of VCC scientists with physician/investigators our multidisciplinary strategies can be optimally pursued as a seamless continuum of mechanistic research to identify therapeutic targets that provide a basis for paradigm shifts in treating cancer.

Based on the interests and expertise of VCC members, we will not restrict our research programs to specific malignancies. Rather, we will focus on the continuum biological control of tumors studying the genesis of malignant tumor cells and the progression that leads to clinically significant disease. 

Properties of tumors and factors that promote tumor development in the host are not specific to individual malignancies and together form a rational platform that incorporate various investigators interested in understanding these biological relationships.  Pursuing these mechanisms of malignancy will be complemented by equivalent emphasis on cancer control and population health sciences. This approach will enhance the ability of the VCC to advance understanding of cancer prevention, early detection, therapy and survivorship.

The Vermont Cancer Center Programs

  1. Molecular Mechanisms of Malignancy
    This program includes basic research studies in cancer stem cells, DNA damage and repair, genome instability, cell cycle defects, corruption of signaling pathways, redox homeostasis, changes in cell differentiation and cell metabolism, cell motility, and environmental carcinogens.  The discovery efforts in this initiative are directed toward identifying cellular biomarkers with prognostic value and new therapeutic targets, and would interface well with new developments in molecular pathology.  The program addresses those events that drive neoplastic transformation, and changes in the biological properties of tumor cells that occur during disease progression that may inform clinical decisions.  Essentially, the program consolidates efforts that investigate autonomous properties of human tumor cells, as well as molecular heterogeneity within specific tumor types.

  2. Host Factors and Tumor Progression 
    This program focuses on parameters in the host that promote or impede progression or recurrence, with an emphasis on host conditions that may influence progression to clinically significant disease. This initiative encompasses chronic inflammation, obesity, diet, exercise, nutrition, coagulation, immune surveillance and modulation, vaccines, tumor cell niches, metastasis, and symptom management.  The emphasis is on understanding host factors and lifestyle choices that modulate rates of progression and recurrence, with the provision that some cancers might be managed as chronic diseases. Here the genetic background of the host is useful to predict responses to various interventions.

  3. Cancer Control and Population Health Sciences
    This program addresses timely questions that are relevant to cancer prevention, early detection and survivorship. Health outcomes research investigation and economics that address quality of care and effectiveness of cancer screening/treatment access for underserved populations is a priority. State of the art approaches that include molecular diagnostics and imaging capabilities are pursued and there will be a concerted effort to link the Cancer Control and Population Health Sciences program with the science oriented initiatives.

Program Expectations

The interface between the programs drives translational studies that focus on the evolution of cancers over time, and particularly in response to therapeutic interventions or lifestyle changes. We have the capability for following individual patient populations over time in a concerted effort to develop initiatives that prevent cancer development, tumor progression or recurrence. Prevention and survivorship will be focal points, and the well-recognized commitment of the University and State to environmental issues can be viewed as a supportive strategy.

Guiding principles for our VCC programs with value added are as follows:

  • Transdisciplinary
  • Collaborative team approaches
  • Linkage of discovery (molecular, cellular, biochemical, systems biology, genetic/epigenetic control, health outcomes investigation, behavioral studies) with cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship
  • Disease sites a focal point for all programs
  • Translation orientation and relationships to requirements of catchment area
  • Engagement in Cancer Center education, training and outreach programs
  • Programs must have a minimum of five (5) grants awarded by peer reviewed, extramural organizations
  • Strong leadership and documentation of collaborative team approaches supported by co-authored publications and grants with co-principal investigators
  • Co-leadership for basic and behavioral science and clinical strategies to support translation
  • Commitment to support evolution of mechanisms to clinical trials and advancing standards of care
  • Pursuit of basic and behavioral science, translational and clinical investigation within the context of unique requirements and opportunities of catchment area
  • Involvement of scientists, physician investigators and behaviorists throughout the College of Medicine, Fletcher Allen Health Care and the University as well as regional and State contributions.

Last modified June 28 2013 12:53 PM