Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Leukemia

Principal Investigator: Daniel Link, MD

The Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) are the cornerstone of the National Cancer Institute's effort to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. Each SPORE is focused on a specific organ site and is designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings as well as to determine the biological basis for observations made in individuals with cancer.

The Washington University SPORE in Leukemia is one of only three SPOREs in the United States focused on leukemias and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Washington University has been at the forefront of genomic studies in AML and MDS. This ongoing basic research has identified several novel recurring mutations in MDS/AML and is defining the importance of clonal heterogeneity in AML or MDS to clinical outcome. In this SPORE, we leverage our expertise in cancer genomics, immunology, and hematopoiesis to develop innovative translational research in leukemia. Our long-term goal is to develop novel biomarkers and treatments for leukemias and MDS and to develop and promote innovative translational leukemia research.

Our SPORE in Leukemia includes the following four translational projects:

Project 1:  Molecular determinants of decitabine responsiveness.

  • Basic Science Co-Leader: Timothy Ley, MD
  • Clinical Science Co-Leader: John Welch, MD, PhD

Project 2:  Targeting the bone marrow microenvironment in acute lymphocytic

  • Basic Science Co-Leader: Daniel Link, MD
  • Clinical Science Co-Leader: Geoffrey Uy, MD

Project 3:  Development of RNA splicing modulators for myelodysplastic syndromes and AML.

  • Basic Science Co-Leader: Timothy Graubert, MD
  • Clinical Science Co-Leader: Matthew Walter, MD

Project 4: Epigenetic modulation of graft versus host disease and graft versus leukemia.

  • Basic Science Co-Leader: John F. DiPersio, MD, PhD
  • Clinical Science Co-Leader: Peter Westevelt, MD, PhD

These projects are supported by three shared resources:

  1. Biospecimen Processing
  2. Biostatistics
  3. Administration

This SPORE also supports a Career Development Program to recruit and mentor new investigators in translational leukemia research and a Developmental Research Program to support innovative translational concepts.