Webster K. Cavenee, PhD

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Webster Cavenee

Director, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Distinguished Professor

Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of California, San Diego


Dr. Cavenee and his team have been investigating the action of mutations in genes that lead to the heritability, development, and malignant progression of tumors. With NFCR’s support, Dr. Cavenee is currently working on identifying the regulatory mechanisms of a type of chromosome translocator, the FKHR gene family. Genes in this family code for molecules that play critical roles in the early stage of cell division. The abnormal fusion of FKHR with another gene (PAX3) is likely to have carcinogenic effects on the developing precursor cells. Moreover, Dr. Cavenee’s data demonstrated that in addition to being a regulator of multiple “worker” genes, FKHR is also essential to the formation of the vascular system (angiogenesis) around tumor cells. Dr. Cavenee’s focus at this stage is to understand how FKHR influences angiogenesis, the targets and regulators of FKHR genes, as well as how other genes within the family affect the cellular transformation process. Hopefully, by mapping out how developing cells acquire genetic defects, we will be able to devise therapeutic measures that can prevent or inhibit these events from taking place.