During tumour progression, proliferating tumour cells lose their polarized epithelial phenotype, acquire an invasive phenotype and metastasize to other organs in the body. These processes frequently kill the cancer patient, however, little is currently known about the mechanisms that underlie tumour invasion and metastasis. To discover how cells develop an invasive phenotype, we will study epithelial plasticity, with particular focus on epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) both in vitro and in vivo. We will identify the signalling pathways and genes involved and determine how they are regulated and their specific functions. We will then use this information to determine the importance of these processes in carcinoma progression and metastasis. We aim to define new targets for cancer therapy and novel markers for diagnosis and prognosis. The training objectives of this interdisciplinary network are to expose young researchers at the PhD and postdoctoral level to advanced techniques and new concepts that will help them become future leaders in cancer research.
Cancer research is a highly challenging and multifaceted discipline. It is essential that cancer researchers have at their disposal a very wide range of techniques from a number of different disciplines, in particular, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, developmental biology and tumour biology. Our objective is to train the young researchers in as many of these areas as possible through the network. None of the individual labs use all of these approaches, but through secondments, exchanges between the labs and network meetings, the young researchers will be able to become expert in many of these disciplines.
Furthermore, flexibility and independence will be stimulated by exposing the researchers to foreign culture and language as well as to different schools of scientific thought. After participating in the network they will be ready to take on demanding jobs in European academia and industry.
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