Center for Translational Research and Molecular Biology of Cancer was founded in 2010 after reorganization of the Research Division of Institute of Oncology in Gliwice.
Research interests. Scientific activities of the Center focus on research in the field of molecular biology of cancer and translation of research results into clinical practice (i.e., translational research in short). Among general goals of the Center are novel methods of molecular diagnostics and experimental anticancer therapies. Specifically, research activities are focused on: (i) genetic risk factor in cancer predisposition, (ii) novel prognostic and predictive markers for cancer therapy; (iii) genomic and proteomic signatures for cancer identification and classification; (iv) novel diagnostic tools for monitoring therapy; (v) pharmacology and biology of novel anticancer drugs; (vi) novel vectors and strategies of drug delivery. Another group of basic research projects is related mostly to molecular responses to cellular stress, including: (i) DNA damage and repair; (ii) heat shock response, (iii) cellular senescence and apoptosis. Besides basic research, investigators take part in implementing a series of diagnostic procedures based on the use of genetic and molecular cancer markers. For more detailed information about research projects visit pages of research groups forming the Center.
The Center is staffed by a group of experienced researchers, doctoral students and technical employees (nearly 60 people total). The core of the Center staff is a group of about 40 scientists with various academic backgrounds (biologists, biotechnologists, physicians, chemists, physicists and computer scientists). Currently, the Center employs five full professors, three associate professors and 25 postdocs. They supervise the work of doctoral students, undergraduate students and volunteers. The researchers make an extensive use of advanced molecular and cell biology techniques and methods. Generally, areas of their skill and research experience cover gene expression analyses (based on microarrays and QRT-PCR methods), DNA sequencing, structural and functional gene studies, gene cloning, fusion/recombinant proteins, stem cells, tumor hypoxia, novel experimental antitumor strategies (involving the tumor microenvironment, immune suppression or drug nanocarriers), construction and use of transgenic mice models as well as proteomic approaches based on mass spectrometry. The Center is organized into several laboratory research teams. In addition, clinical task-oriented research teams are operating. For more detailed information concerning individual research groups (staff, equipment, research grant projects and research papers) visit their web pages.
Research Collaboration The Center actively collaborates with several Polish and foreign cancer research entities. The latter include such renown establishments as Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ, Heidelberg ), National Cancer Institute (NCI, Bethesda), UT Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas), MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston) and Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia). Close research ties are maintained between the Center and scientists from the Silesian University of Technologies in Gliwice (especially the Faculty of Automatic Control, Electronics and Computer Science, and the Faculty of Chemistry), as well as investigators from research units participating in the works of BioMedtech Silesia Center of Excellence Network. The CBT researchers have also been involved in supporting undergraduate and graduate educational mission by serving as lecturers and instructors in academic programs offered by three Silesian institutions of higher learning: the University of Silesia in Katowice, the Medical University of Silesia and the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice. The majority of research projects implemented at the Center are pursued in close collaboration with teams of physicians from different clinics or clinical departments at the parent institution.
Research in the field of cancer biology has been conducted at the Gliwice Branch of the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Memorial Institute of Oncology since 1948, when Department of Tumor Biopathology was founded. This department was soon after transformed into Department of Tumor Biology. Between 1997 and 2010 the Research Division of the Institute of Oncology in Gliwice consisted of three departments: Molecular Biology, Tumor Biology and Experimental & Clinical Radiobiology. In 2004, the Research Division has been granted the " Center of Excellence " status by the Ministry of Science and Informatization (as one of two institutions in Poland involved in oncology-oriented research). In 2010, the internal structure of the Research Division was revamped. In lieu of the three previously existing departments a new Center for Translational Research and Molecular Biology of Cancer was formed.
Research in the field of cancer biology has over 60 years of tradition at the Institute of Oncology in Gliwice. In 1948, shortly after inauguration of the State Anticancer Institute in Gliwice, Dr. Zygmunt Zakrzewski (former Head of the Biology Department at the Radium Institute in Warsaw) established there the Department of Tumor Biopathology. In 1950 this entity was renamed Department of Tumor Biology, and was since headed by Prof. Kazimierz Dux until he left for the Institute of Oncology in Warsaw in 1955. The Department was then led by Doc. Henryk Godlewski (until 1961), followed by Prof. Mieczysław Chorąży (until 1995). In 1974 the Department of Tumor Biology was renamed as Department of Molecular Biology (although papers in international journals continued to appear under the old departmental name), and two sister departments branched off. The Department of Cytochemistry and Cell Ultrastructure was initially headed by Prof. Andrzej Vorbrodt (until 1976), then managed by Dr. Stanisław Gruca and Dr. Stefania Krzyżowska-Gruca. Second department which was planned for Doc. Zenon Stęplewski, the Department of Oncogenic Viruses, acted for shorter period of time. In the initial period of the research division activity of the investigations focused on tumor metabolism, physical and chemical characterization of nucleic acids and their role in cancer etiology, cytotoxic action of acridines, histochemistry of cancer tissues and ultrastructure of cancer cells. Besides the researchers mentioned already, the ones who had the greatest impact on scientific achievements of the division at that time were Maria Grabowska, Krzysztof Vorbrodt, Tadeusz Wilczok. In the early sixties two other research units were established at the Institute of Oncology in Gliwice. Laboratory of Radiobiology was headed by Dr. Jan Watras, and then by Dr. Maria Wideł. Department of Cancer Epidemiology was headed by Doc. Jerzy Staszewski, and then by Prof. Brunon Zemła.
During the seventies and the eighties, together with a younger generation of investigators (among them were Stanisław Szala, Jan Filipski and Zdzisław Krawczyk), novel research themes set in at the experimental group. These included oncogenes, structure of the genetic material, gene expression regulation as well as heat-shock genes and proteins. Late eighties saw also development of research, initiated by Prof. Mieczysław Chorąży, in the area of environmental cancerogenesis. It enjoyed keen interest, being one of the first of the kind worldwide. At that time, along with quick accumulation of knowledge concerning molecular biology of tumors, research themes that were pursued included genetic predisposition to various types of cancers, damage and repair of genetic material, gene therapy, as well as use of transgenic animals in cancer research. Investigators who, at the time, had decisive impact on the activities of research division included, among others, Joanna Rzeszowska-Wolny, Ewa Grzybowska, and Grażyna Motykiewicz.
In the late-nineties the organizing scheme of the division of experimental research was refined once more and new departments were set up. Since 1995 the Department of Molecular Biology was headed by Prof. Stanisław Szala. In 1997 the Department of Experimental and Clinical Radiobiology (headed by Prof. Joanna Rzeszowska) and then in 1999 the Department of Tumor Biology (headed by Professor Zdzisław Krawczyk) branched off. In these years, several Gliwice researchers visited for extended periods of time the leading research centers in Western Europe and North America (among them DKFZ in Heidelberg and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, NCI-NIH in Bethesda, Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Columbia University in New York and Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas). Around this time a research fellowship and training program for young scientists from Eastern Europe was established in Gliwice with the financial support from NCI-NIH, EACR and UNESCO.
Progress in biomedical sciences during the first decade of this century resulted in novel research themes having been undertaken at the research division, including cancer genomics and proteomics, cell death mechanisms and novel therapeutic strategies (e.g. anti-angiogenic peptides and recombinant proteins). The group of independent researchers (who received habilitation and professorships) was then joined by Piotr Widłak, Maria Wideł, Marek Rusin, Wiesława Widłak and Katarzyna Lisowska. The last reorganization of the division of experimental research took place in 2010. The three former Departments were fused into the Center for Translational Research and Molecular Biology of Cancer, headed by prof. Piotr Widłak.
The staff of the experimental research division at the Institute of Oncology in Gliwice can be proud of its 60-year-old history, research excellence and particular achievements. Its employees authored or co-authored more than 1000 research papers half of which were published in recognized international-scope journals (including the most renowned ones, such as Nature , Science , PNAS or JBC ). So far, more than 70 research division employees received their Ph.D. degrees and 15 of them earned D.Sc. degree (habilitation). Our group organized several dozens of research conferences and training workshops. In the sixties and seventies of the last century Scientific Meetings were held in Gliwice and these were revitalized in 1997 in the guise of international-range Gliwice Scientific Meetings. The latter have been held in November of every year since then; recently, the Meetings are organized in cooperation with Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice. The division also organized International Wilhelm Bernhard Workshops on the Cell Nucleus ; first one in Cracow (1985) and the other in Ustroń (2009). In 1992 we organized an international symposium “ Assessment of Cancer Hazard in Silesia ”. In 1995, in commemoration of the 70 th birth anniversary of Professor Mieczysław Chorąży, the long-term leader of the Research Division, an international symposium “ Progress in Tumor Biology ” was held in Gliwice. The staff of research division organized also three hands-on FEBS training courses; these included “Cell Hybridization and Cellular Membranes ” (1970), “Sequencing of DNA ” (1979) and “Estimation of DNA Damage Induced by Genotoxic Agents ” (2002). In 1976 an EORTC-sponsored course on “Chemotherapy of Cancer ” was organized. From the onset of grant financing system in Poland in 1991, staff of the division of experimental research have held more than 70 projects financed either by the State Committee for Scientific Research or by the Ministry of Science. In 2004, the Ministry of Science granted the Research Division at the Institute of Oncology in Gliwice the status of a Center of Excellence.