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Novel genetic approaches to study breast cancer


The genetic code of humans and multiple other species has been identified. The critical experiments will be to identify the function of these genes in normal physiology and in diseases such as cancer. Genetic animal models have proven to be extremely valuable to elucidate the essential functions of genes.

In particular, the generation of transgenic mice and so-called gene targeted mice has provided novel insights into gene functions and the pathogenesis of disease. Using gene-targeted mice Penninger's group has identified a master gene, RANKL, of bone loss in arthritis and osteoporosis (Nature, 1999; Nature 1999; Cell 2000) and they identified genes that control heart size (Nature 2002;Cell 2002); cell death (Nature 1999 & 2001); cancer (Nature 2000); or pain (Cell 2002).

Based on impact factors, his laboratory has been ranked as one of the 10 best laboratories in the world as the only non-US based research group and Prof. Penninger was ranked among the 10 most promising young scientists in the world in all fields of Sciences. After 13 years in North America, the Austrian Academy of Sciences has now made Prof. Penninger and his group an offer to come to Vienna to continue his outstanding work at IMBA, a new Centre of Excellence founded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Cancer care will be revolutionized over the next decade by the introduction of novel therapeutics that target the underlying molecular mechanisms of the disease. Prof. Penninger will bring his expertise in functional mouse genomics and biochemistry to Europe to create a new European centre of excellence.

A primary goal is to generate a platform for the development and application of functional genomics in order to understand the pathogenesis of malignancies and to provide new animals models to test and develop novel therapies.

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