Chris Sander, Ph.D.Tri-Institutional Professor
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Program Chairman and Director, Computational Biology Center
Dr. Sander works in computational and systems biology. His research combines theory and experiment to develop predictive models of biological systems and build tools that translate genomic data into biomedical knowledge and practice, coordinated in the MSKCC Center for Cancer Systems Biology.
Lab members and their collaborators derive computational models of signaling networks in normal or cancer cells. They perform combinatorial perturbation experiments with rich molecular readout using drugs or RNA interference as perturbants, then optimize predictive accuracy and model simplicity. The resulting models can be used to design combinatorial interventions for investigational or therapeutic purposes, to discover the specificity spectrum of drugs or to redesign cellular circuits for synthetic biology.
To discover molecular processes characteristic of cancer subtypes and indicative of prognosis and response to therapy, lab members use high throughput data on gene expression and genetic variation from DNA chips, massively parallel sequencing and mass spectrometry. They then map these molecular profiles to pathway and interaction networks for analysis. The group also actively participates in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, which will deliver unprecedented detail of the molecular characteristics of human cancers, with focus on determining oncogenic alterations in biomolecular pathways.
To elucidate regulation of gene expression by microRNAs, lab members apply prediction algorithms on a genome-wide scale for microRNAs in key organisms, posing questions in cancer biology and neurobiology. They are currently working to include microRNAs and other functional RNAs in network models of gene regulation.
- Rajasethupathy, P. et al. Characterization of small RNAs in Aplysia reveals a role for miR-124 in constraining synaptic plasticity through CREB. Neuron 63, 803–817 (2009).
- Chitale, D. et al. An integrated genomic analysis of lung cancer reveals loss of DUSP4 in EGFR-mutant tumors. Oncogene 28, 2773–2783 (2009).
- Nelander, S. et al. Models from experiments: Combinatorial drug perturbations of cancer cells. Mol. Syst. Biol. 4, 216 (2008).