MADISON, Wis. — Teams of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Washington are collaborating to identify the molecular genetic events that can cause colon polyps, which are small clumps of cells on the lining of the colon, to become cancerous. Approximately 5 percent of polyps ultimately progress to colorectal cancer.
Funding was awarded by the National Institutes of Health to a team including Richard Halberg, PhD, associate professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Wisconsin School of Mecidine, and collaborators Perry Pickhardt, MD, professor (CHS), Department of Radiology, and William Grady, MD, professor, University of Washington, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The entire award provides $2.5 million over five years (R01 award), of which $1.2 million is provided to the Halberg laboratory. The title of the proposal is “Radiogenomics of colorectal polyps to assess benign proliferative vs. premalignant states.”
Scientists will assess the genome-wide genetic alterations, gene expression patterns, and epigenetic alterations in polyp cells using a unique collection of human polyps that have been observed over time using CT colonography. Their goal is to see whether the changes that occur during polyp formation determine whether polyps will grow and progress to a deadly cancer, or remain in a stable, benign state.
Halberg is the son of Sandra and the late Richard “Dick” Halberg. He graduated from Princeton High School in 1983, the University of Iowa in 1988 with double majors of biology and chemistry, received his PhD in biochemistry at Michigan State University in 1994 and then his post doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, where he then opened his own cancer lab there to the present.