Henry Heng

Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics; Pathology Department; Wayne State University School of Medicine

Our group is searching for a new framework of cancer/organismal evolution and its clinical implications. On the theoretical level, we have introduced the Genome Theory that considers genomic topology (or karyotype) as a new layer of key genetic information, and the genome defined “system inheritance” rather than gene/epi-gene defined “parts inheritance” represents the blueprint of bio-system. From our experimental work, we have discovered “two phases of cancer evolution” (punctuated macro-cellular evolution and stepwise Darwinian micro-cellular evolution) that are commonly detected during the entire process of cancer formation (including immortalization, transformation, metastasis to drug resistance). Within the punctuated phase, the genome chaos dominates, which explains the rapid cancer evolution beyond individual cancer genes. We have also established the concept/methodology of measuring genome instability based on the frequency of non-clonal chromosome aberrations, which is essential to understand the diverse molecular mechanisms of cancer in the context of somatic cell evolution.

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