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Wilmot Cancer Institute / Research / Research Programs / Genetics, Epigenetics and Metabolism (GEM)


Genetics, Epigenetics and Metabolism (GEM)

Doctors looking at computer

The GEM research program focuses on fundamental laboratory-based research to better understand the cell intrinsic factors that drive cancer development and progression. Researchers are studying genetic and epigenetic drivers of transcriptional variation and its role in cancer cell plasticity; how the process of aging exposes new cellular vulnerabilities to promote cancer development; and how oncogenic signals converge to drive metabolic and oxidative reprogramming, revealing new avenues for intervention.

The program strives to exploit novel findings toward clinical translation through the development of new preclinical models,  identification of novel biomarkers, and by interacting with Wilmot’s disease working groups to inform early-phase drug development and new clinical trials.

The program has three specific aims:

  • To understand the basic mechanisms by which altered transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms contribute to aberrant cancer cell programming
  • To elucidate the role that plasticity and aging play in cancer development and disease trajectory.  
  • To identify and to exploit vulnerabilities brought about by oxidative stress and metabolic re-programming

Program Leaders


Darren Carpizo, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Surgery/Oncology at the Wilmot Cancer Institute
Dr. Carpizo's interests include liver, pancreatic, and other gastrointestinal cancers and basic science in those areas that leads to clinical trials.

Paula Vertino, Ph.D.
Wilmot Distinguished Professor in Cancer Genomics and professor, Biomedical Genetics.
Dr. Vertino’s interests are focused on cancer epigenetics and novel mechanisms of gene silencing in cancer.