[Illinois] Cancer Community Symposium 2012: Understanding and Targeting Transcription in Hematological Malignancies

By Jonathan D. Licht

Medicine-Hematology/Oncology, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

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Abnormalities in the epigenetic regulation of chromatin structure and function can lead to aberrant gene expression and cancer development. Epigenetic regulators can be affected by chromosomal rearrangement, point mutations, deletions and amplifications in cancer. The result may be changes in the function of specific transcription factors and pathways or more global, genome wide changes in chromatin modification and gene expression. Consequently, epigenetic therapies aim to restore normal chromatin modification patterns through the inhibition of various components of the epigenetic machinery. Specific transcriptional targeting of hematological malignancies was achieved through the treatment of acute promyleocytic leukemia. More recently specific therapies have been developed against Bcl6 in lymphoma and MLL proteins in leukemia. Histone deacetylase and DNA methyltransferase inhibitors represent the first putative global epigenetic therapies, however these agents have pleiotropic effects and it remains unclear how they lead to therapeutic responses. More recently, drugs that inhibit histone methyltransferases were developed, perhaps representing more specific agents. I will review emerging epigenetic targets in cancer and present recent models of promising epigenetic therapies.

Cancer Community At Illinois Symposium 2012

April 5-6, 2012: Connecting patient care, research, and scientific advancement

Symposium Premise
This on-campus research symposium aims to bring together members of campus and the surrounding community to foster interdisciplinary discussions on cancer research and its affects on patient care. In order to increase understanding and awareness, we will discuss in an open forum with research talks, poster presentations, and panel discussions. We invite community members, clinicians, and researchers from UIUC and other Midwest regional institutions from departments ranging from the social sciences to basic sciences to engineering and medicine.
The symposium features invited talks from nationally-recognized cancer researchers, oral presentations from UIUC faculty and students, and poster sessions. We encourage student researchers from UIUC and from other regional schools to apply (travel awards are available).

About CC@I Symposium
The Cancer Community at Illinois (CC@I) Symposium is organized by a group of students on the University of Illinois campus to bridge the areas of social science, basic sciences to engineering and medicine as they relate to cancer. The symposium mission is to: 1) Facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and understanding that transcends established departmental affiliation; 2) Foster an increased understanding of the social and environmental factors affecting patients; and 3) Develop unique vantage points afforded by interactive dialogue between and among the various cancer research disciplines. In order to accomplish this, the symposium will engage the local patient community through use of the nascent social and support efforts of the Mills Breast Cancer Institute, Carle Hospital, and regional clinical collaborators.
If you are interested in other CC@I events or the program in general, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Dr. Licht is the Johanna Dobe Professor of Medicine, Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology and an Associate Director (Clinical Sciences) of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. For over 20 years, Dr. Licht's laboratory has studied aberrant transcriptional regulation as a cause of hematological malignancy. This has included the molecular biology of acute promyelocytic leukemia and transcriptional mechanisms and targets of the PLZF transcription factor. He has studied chromatin changes and gene expression mediated by the MMSET protein overexpressed in a subset of multiple myeloma, as well as aberrant gene and miRNA regulation in myeloproliferative neoplasms, and most recently chromatin changes mediated by EZH2 in lymphoma. Dr. Licht is the Principal Investigator of a Leukemia Society Specialized Center of Excellence grant on chromatin mechanisms in hematological malignancies and Senior Scientific Leader of the Northwestern University NCI-Funded Physical Sciences Oncology Center, also centered on aberrant chromatin regulation. Dr. Licht is a Senior Editor of Clinical Cancer Research and serves on the editorial boards of Oncogene, Clinical Epigenetics and Cancer Biology and Therapy. Dr. Licht is a member of the Basic Sciences Committee of the NCI Board of Scientific Counselors.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Jonathan D. Licht (2012), "[Illinois] Cancer Community Symposium 2012: Understanding and Targeting Transcription in Hematological Malignancies," http://nanohub.org/resources/13944.

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Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL


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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign