“By the end of the century, biomedical research at Notre Dame had begun to make its mark in the world,” said Castellino. “Not too many places have gone from virtually nothing to real prominence in the field.”
Today, cancer research at Notre Dame is organized into three focus groups, namely 1) cell biology and cell signaling, 2) gene targeting, and 3) drug design\discovery. Studies in the cell biology and cell signaling group emphasize cytoskeletal dynamics, membrane trafficking, molecular motors, and small G proteins in relation to the apoptotic response of tumors to hormone and chemotherapy, using cell culture, autochthonous tumor models, orthotopic xenografts and transgenic models of cancer.
The gene targeting group focuses on initiation, progression, and metastasis of tumors as studied in animals with targeted alterations in genes encoding thrombotic, antithrombotic, and fibrinolytic proteins. A large number of animals of these types are already available having been developed at Lobund under the directorship of Morris Pollard.
The evolution of cancer research on campus has also resulted in a deepening relationship between Notre Dame cancer researchers and a clinical research organization, known as the Hoosier Oncology Group, a state-wide network of physicians and clinical research practitioners founded by oncologist's and faculty members at Indiana University Cancer Center. This network of oncologist's is also a partner institution with the Walter Cancer Institute.
In time, Navari hopes to attract new faculty members to develop their cancer research laboratories and to compete nationally and internationally for funds. “We basically have two institutions (Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine) contributing similar resources into one cancer center which hopefully will become seamless,” he said. “Eventually, we want to be in a position to attract $5 to $6 million a year in cancer research funds from the National Cancer Institute to help carry out our work. It is a great leap ahead for Notre Dame and IU, no question about it.”