Cancer Biology


BMS Faculty in Cancer Biology


Research Area Leaders: Frank Furnari and Emily Wang 

The Cancer Biology Research Area provides a unique opportunity for graduate students in the Biomedical Sciences Program to learn from the expertise of a highly collaborative group of world-renowned cancer biologists at UC San Diego, Salk InstituteSanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Within UC San Diego, faculty participating in the Cancer Biology research area are drawn from diverse departments, including Chemistry & BiochemistryPharmacologyCellular & Molecular MedicinePathologyMedicine and Surgery. The overall goal of the research area is to provide students with a strong foundation in cancer biology, as well as a current perspective on translational and clinical research.

Graduate students interested in the cancer biology research area will have the opportunity to work with an outstanding group of scientists and physicians who are focused on a wide range of adult and pediatric cancers, including leukemia, brain cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and colon cancer. Their research spans topics of broad interest such as understanding the basis of cancer initiation, progression and metastasis, angiogenesis, cancer stem cells, in vivo imaging, therapeutic targeting and drug design and delivery. A guiding principle throughout their research is the use of cutting-edge technology and multi-disciplinary approaches to address fundamental questions in cancer biology with an emphasis on translational research. The research area is structured to integrate the scientific and clinical faculty and to provide students exposure to different areas of cancer research. The research area is also closely affiliated with several training initiatives on campus. This includes the Cancer Cell Signaling & Communication Training Program and Cancer Biology, Informatics & Omics Training Program which complement the training students receive within the cancer biology program.

BMS provides a unified core curriculum for all first-year students. Based on their interests, students can choose from a range of elective courses to fill their 15-unit elective requirement. Courses related to this research area are listed below.

Recommended Courses & Seminars

Course Number

Course Title

BIOM 256/PHAR 222

Fundamentals of Cancer Biology (Cancer Bio I) – every year (W)

PHAR 224

Cancer as a Disease (Cancer Bio II) – every odd year (S)

BIOM 252

Genetics and Genomics (S)

BIOM 254

Molecular and Cell Biology (S)

BIOM 275

Seminars in Pharmacology (Cancer Bio in some years) (W)

BIOM 272

Seminars in Genetics (S)


BIOM 296

Scientific Writing (included in 2nd yr minor prop course) (F)


Bioinformatics (required) (W)

CMM 264

Proteomics for Biologists

PATH 223

Mouse Models for Human Disease

BGGN 231

Current Concepts in Stem Cell Biology

PHAR 234

Careers in Biomedical Sciences

CMM 262

Quantitative Methods in Genetics (Bioinformatics II)

BIOM 226

Hormone Action and Metabolism