Cancer and Personalized Medicine

Multidisciplinary approach tackles cancer on all fronts

Timothy J. Eberlein, MD
Mark Katzman

The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, led by Timothy J. Eberlein, MD, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor, is a beacon of hope for cancer patients and their families.


As a leader in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine is driving an ever-greater convergence among oncology, genomics, imaging, and pathology. Its interdisciplinary approach to translating laboratory findings into comprehensive, compassionate patient care will ultimately foster the development of personalized medicine for cancer and other diseases.

Areas of excellence

Led by investigators in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Oncology, collaborative and creative research seeking to uncover causes and cures for cancer takes place in nearly all departments and divisions throughout Washington University School of Medicine. The division also has joined with several institutions in creating a protein atlas.

The Genome Institute has helped to define and understand the makeup of the human genome in myriad ways, including contributing 25 percent of the finished sequence to the Human Genome Project. This effort informs other research, including successfully decoding — for the first time in
history — the complete DNA of a cancer patient by tracing her disease, acute myelogenous leukemia, to its genetic roots. In sequencing the patient’s entire genome and the genome of her leukemia cells, investigators were able to identify the genetic changes unique to her cancer. In addition to its hope for saving lives, this work promises to accelerate the era of personalized medicine.

The Department of Radiation Oncology works with units across the entire medical enterprise on the development and implementation of new cancer treatments. The recent acquisition of the Midwest's first proton accelerator allows physicians to target tumors with greater precision and minimize radiation of vital organs and tissues surrounding tumors.

Genomics and Pathology Services (GPS), a collaborative effort between the Department of Pathology and Immunology and the James S. McDonnell Department of Genetics, provides expertise in genetic testing and pathology consultation, including clinical genomics and next-generation sequencing.

Together, we can

  • develop tests to detect cancer at its very beginnings and to assess genetic cancer risk.

  • identify and evaluate strategies for stopping cancer growth or preventing it altogether in collaboration with the Department of Anesthesiology, Developmental Biology, Radiology, and Neurology.

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