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Bhowmick Laboratory studies stromal-epithelial interactions in cancer development, with a focus on prostate cancer. Our overall hypothesis is that the host impacts cancer progression; thus, addressing the host response to cancer can provide effective therapeutic and possibly preventative targets. The laboratory developed an alternative to the familiar "two-hit hypothesis" of at least two independent somatic mutations in a cell mediating its malignant progression, whereby a genomic mutation in the epithelia can be associated with epigenetic changes in the adjacent fibroblastic cells.
The Bhowmick laboratory identified that stromally-derived paracrine signals can mediate the initiation of cancer. Interestingly, a number of stromally-derived host factors serve to predict clinical outcome of cancer patients. Multidisciplinary collaborations,often applying clinically relevant animal models developed in the lab have been used for interrogating signaling mechanisms and pre-clinical therapeutic development.
Currently, the National Cancer Institute, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, Kure-IT, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation support the work of the Bhowmick lab.