Transdisciplinary Working Groups

Markey Cancer Center's Transdisciplinary Working Groups provide a forum that promotes interaction between disciplines — including basic, clinical and population scientists — to focus on a singular disease site or research interest. The goal of these groups is to better understand disease phenotypes in Markey's catchment area and use this knowledge to develop novel treatment and care projects across programs that inform clinical trials and implement population-level interventions. 

Markey supports these groups through various mechanisms including oversight and evaluation, grants, project support, symposia, web and media support, and administrative support to help align with CCSG requirements.

Groups meet regularly to explore common interests and the impacts on the population research concept development. Members are expected to foster and monitor joint projects and collaborate with disease-specific Clinical Care and Research Teams (CCARTs) to implement their findings into clinical studies.



The gastrointestinal cancers group works to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of GI cancers. This group focuses on developing new risk prediction strategies for colorectal cancers based on epidemiology and genetics, increasing earlier detection and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and developing new therapeutics in colorectal and liver cancers and GI neuroendocrine tumors.

Leaders: Tianyan Gao, B. Mark Evers


The breast cancer group fosters translational breast cancer research through the interactions of basic scientists, informaticists/biostatisticians and clinicians interested in facilitating translational research and sharing of common resources such as tumor specimens, cell lines and animal models.

Leader: Ren Xu


The prostate cancer group works on projects to increase survivorship by decreasing the metastatic spread of prostate cancer. One focus to progress this goal is though drug discovery and repurposing FDA-approved drugs to prevent or treat prostate cancer at all stages of development.

Leaders: Xiaoqi Liu, Derek Allison


The lung cancers group addresses Kentucky’s lung cancer priority by building on clinical and translational strengths. They target their outcomes to improve existing and emerging therapies, monitor patient outcomes and improve quality of life, and work within clinical trials to develop biomarkers and improve therapies for lung cancer patients in Kentucky.

Leaders: David Orren, Ralph Zinner

Transdisciplinary working groups:

  • Have a minimum of two leaders who must represent different research programs
  • Include members from all three research programs
  • Include representatives from Markey’s Shared Resource Facilities (SRFs) and Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) teams
  • Engage Markey trainees at all levels of career progression
  • Meet monthly

Goals include:

  • Define and communicate a purpose, goals, and key investigative questions that align with Markey's strategic plan and priorities.
  • Work towards the submission of multi-PI grants and large-scale multi-component grants, such as SPOREs and P01s.
  • Drive concepts that result in Markey investigator-initiated clinical trials.

In order to provide working groups with feedback, input and the strongest possible alignment with Markey's strategic priorities, each group is evaluated through oversight by the Associate Director for Basic Research and report regular updates to the Director’s Council as well as to other Markey committees as needed.

Interested in starting a new transdisciplinary working group? Contact Jennifer Rogers ( to get started and learn more about the expectations and support.

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 56 in the nation.