Cancer Center

Cancer is an important public health problem worldwide and in Qatar, with increase in incidence with age. Cancer is a highly complex disease caused by a different combination of genetic defects. Even among patients with a single type of cancer, such as breast or colon cancer, the genetic triggers vary from one person to another.

Although cancer is driven by accumulation of genetic abnormalities over time, including mutations in oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes, it is becoming increasingly clear that cancer is also driven by ‘epigenetic changes’, i.e. alterations of gene expression that are mediated by mechanisms that do not affect the primary DNA sequence. These involve chromatin remodeling by both losses and gains of DNA methylation, as well as altered patterns of histone modifications. The Cancer Research Center focuses on the molecular mechanism of cancer initiation and progression tackling questions relating to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, supported by world-class core scientific facilities.

Research Interests: Understanding the molecular basis of cancer and the development of novel therapies and treatments
The Cancer Center is interested in understanding the molecular basis of cancer initiation and progression with a focus on breast cancer.

The main aim of the Cancer Research Center is to contribute towards understanding the genetic and epigenetic events leading to tumorigenesis. We study epigenetic modifications and dynamics, but also various aspects of and how they are modified in and contribute to pathological states. We therefore address the structure and organisation of the genome and epigenome. Another major focus of the Cancer Center is Cancer Immunology & Immunotherapy. More specifically, our research groups are interested in investigating mechanisms employed by tumors to evade immune-mediated destruction with special interest in the role and function of immunosuppressive cells [T regulatory cells (Tregs) and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs)]. Additionally, we are interested in developing therapeutic approaches against cancers by using NK cells, T cells and genetically-modified immune cells. These clinical and basic research themes, supported by the core facilities, intersect and tap into readily accessible clinical resources provided through Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

To achieve this broad objective, the Cancer Research Center uses combinations of biochemistry, in vivo genetics, imaging, proteomic, high throughput genomics, flow cytometry & cell sorting and bioinformatic technologies as integrative approaches to understand the function of epigenetic effectors and the gene regulatory networks that they control. This is complemented by cell biology and pre-clinical approaches to breast cancer.