Cancer cells achieve their pathogenicity by changing which genes are on and off. To maintain these changes in gene expression, cancer cells rely on proteins that interact with DNA or modify chromatin. My group investigates how such factors sustain the aberrant capabilities of cancer cells, thereby identifying new therapeutic targets.
Cancer can be understood as a disease of dysfunctional gene expression control. Research in Chris Vakoc’s lab investigates how transcription factors and chromatin regulators cooperate to control gene expression and maintain the cancer cell state. This work makes extensive use of genetic screens to reveal cancer-specific functions for transcriptional regulators, as well as genomic and biochemical approaches to identify molecular mechanisms. One theme that has emerged from their efforts is that blood cancers are often vulnerable to targeting transcriptional coactivators, such as BRD4 and the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. Vakoc’s team demonstrated that chemical inhibition of BRD4 exhibits therapeutic effects in mouse models of leukemia, a finding that has motivated ongoing clinical trials in human leukemia patients. The Vakoc lab has also developed a CRISPR-Cas9 screening approach that can reveal individual protein domains that sustain cancer cells. Their lab is now deploying this technology in a diverse array of human cancers to reveal therapeutic opportunities and basic mechanisms of cancer gene control.
AACR Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research Award
Forbeck Scholar Award
"V Scholar" by The V Foundation for Cancer Research
Burroughs Welcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists
Pershing Square Sohn Prize
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Award
Why pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is so lethal
May 19, 2020
CSHL researchers discovered factors that allow a pancreatic cell to lose its identity and turn into an aggressive cancer cell.
Christina Renna Foundation donates $38k to study sarcoma
February 27, 2020
The Christina Renna Foundation donated $38,000 to the lab of Professor Chris Vakoc.
Milestone reached in new leukemia drug
November 19, 2019
Salt-Inducible Kinase 3 (SIK3) could be a good therapeutic candidate for treating MLL translocation positive subtype of leukemia.
Vakoc wins Paul Marks Prize for cancer research
November 12, 2019
Professor Chris Vakoc was awarded The Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research for his ongoing contributions to the understanding of cancer.
A home like no other, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
November 7, 2019
Hear why our campus, our community, and our collaborative nature makes us a place that so many scientists call "home."
Mary Ruchalski Foundation donates $30k for cancer research
October 30, 2019
The Mary Ruchalski Foundation donated $30,000 for Professor Chris Vakoc’s lab for continued sarcoma research.
Friends of T.J. donate $50,000 for sarcoma research
October 23, 2019
The Friends of T.J. Foundation donated $50,000 for Professor Chris Vakoc’s lab for sarcoma research on October 14, 2019.
A survivor’s path to cancer research
August 9, 2019
Leukemia survivor and CSHL volunteer Anya Shah talks about her drive to do cancer research and her time in Vakoc lab.
Christina Renna Foundation gives $35k for pediatric cancer research
February 7, 2019
The Christina Renna Foundation donated $35,000 to CSHL for continued work on Sarcoma Research Project and research into RMS.
The year of CRISPR
December 26, 2018
A look at the various labs across CSHL that utilize CRISPR in their research, and the groundbreaking discoveries they help uncover.