Translational Molecular Medicine Research

Translational Molecular Medicine is the development and translational application of transcriptomic, genomic, and epigenomic biomarkers as diagnostic, prognostic and predictive tools for diseases. Our team translates promising therapeutics from bench to bedside treatment for solid tumors, particularly melanoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and gastrointestinal tract cancers.

Translational Molecular Medicine - Bio-Markers - Saint John's Cancer Institute JWCI Translational Molecular Medicine researchers reviewing data Genetic Sequencing -Saint Johns Cancer Institute HTG Molecular Saint Johns Cancer Institute

Molecular Medicine Research Mission and Vision

Our mission is devoted to the development of new approaches for the molecular diagnosis of metastasis with a strong emphasis on the identification of molecular biomarkers (genomic, epigenomic) that can be used in early-diagnosis, prognosis, drug resistance, and theranostic targets. Our mission goal is clinical translational research to improve cancer patient healthcare.

Our vision is the employment of blood molecular biomarkers such as cell-free nucleic acid (cfNA; DNA, miRNA) and circulating tumor cells (CTC) to aid in cancer patient management and modern therapeutics. Our other vision is the understanding of ubiquitin and ubiquilin related to tumor regulatory pathways and translational responses to therapy resistance.

Our Mission and Goals
Molecular Medicine research team looking at data

Partnership & Collaboration

Our Translational Molecular Medicine Department was initiated at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute in 1991 under Dr. Dave SB Hoon. Dr. Hoon’s research team has published over 350 publications in indexed scientific journals. We collaborate with academic and industry partners to fulfill our research goals. Our academic partners help build programs, sharing knowledge and resources for the benefit of all partners, while our industry partners help us develop products and provide resources not available at the institute.

Currently, the members of the department are organized in different sections of research, these include:

  • The identification of CTCs and CFNA in blood and urine for diagnosis and prognosis of patients during follow up.
  • The understanding of different epigenetic mechanisms that regulate regional and distant(brain, visceral organ) metastasis.
  • Assessment of ubiquitin and ubiquilin pathways that promote tumor progression and treatment resistance.
  • Identification of mechanisms of primary brain and brain metastasis progression and tumor microenvironment interactions.

The department has been supported by NIH/NCI grants for melanoma translational studies since 1992. The dept has been supported for breast cancer by FFANY, ABCs, Gonda, California Breast Cancer Program, DOD, and Komen foundations. In the last five years the dept has been supported by the Adeleson Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) as Dr. Hoon is a member of the program.

Our Partners
Academic and Industry Collaborations Saint John's Cancer Institute

Molecular Medicine Research Topics

We are highly focused on developing quantitative translational oncology tools to improve management of solid tumor cancer patients. Discoveries made in molecular studies are rapidly translated for application at the bedside. We have partnered with biotech and pharmaceutical companies in developing treatment protocols and new molecular oncology approaches, the results of which may increase overall survival and eventually expedite development of a cure for patients with solid tumor cancers.

Translational Molecular Medicine

Main Projects

  • We are looking for molecular blood biopsies in blood that include cell free nucleic acids (cfNAs) (ctDNA, miRNA, CTCs and exosomes). We assess/determine their clinical utility especially in diagnosis and prognosis during treatment.
  • We assess patients who receive immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
  • We assess various forms of epigenetic changes (methylation and histone) as related to metastasis and therapy resistance.
  • We assess DNA damage resistance related genes in response to drug resistance.
  • We examine primary and extracranial brain tumor molecular biology.
  • We assess regulatory mechanisms of specific ubiquitin and ubiquilin.

Professor Dave S.B. Hoon MSc, Ph.D. Founder & Director of Translational Molecular Medicine and Sequencing Center


Dr. Dave Hoon has published more than 375 peer-reviewed and co-authored articles.
See articles at

  1. EpiMap: Fine-tuning integrative epigenomics maps to understand complex human regulatory genomic circuitry.
  2. Current status of gastrointestinal tract cancer brain metastasis and the use of blood-based cancer biomarker biopsy.
  3. Assessment of Cell-Free microRNA by NGS Whole-Transcriptome Analysis in Cutaneous Melanoma Patients’ Blood.
  4. Regulation of MRE11A by UBQLN4 leads to cisplatin resistance in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
  5. Genetic Variants in Immune Related Genes as Predictors of Responsiveness to BCG Immunotherapy in Metastatic Melanoma Patients.
  6. The melanoma brain metastatic microenvironment: aldolase C partakes in shaping the malignant phenotype of melanoma cells – a case of inter-tumor heterogeneity.
  7. Simultaneous Isolation of Circulating Nucleic Acids and EV-Associated Protein Biomarkers From Unprocessed Plasma Using an AC Electrokinetics-Based Platform.
  8. A Pilot Study Comparing the Efficacy of Lactate Dehydrogenase Levels Versus Circulating Cell-Free microRNAs in Monitoring Responses to Checkpoint Inhibitor Immunotherapy in Metastatic Melanoma Patients.
  9. Inter-Tumor Heterogeneity-Melanomas Respond Differently to GM-CSF-Mediated Activation.
  10. Integrated Assessment of Circulating Cell-Free MicroRNA Signatures in Plasma of Patients with Melanoma Brain Metastasis.
Translational Research - Publications - NIH Articles - Dr. David Hoon

Postdoctoral Lab-Based Translational Molecular Medicine Fellowship

As pioneers in translational studies on liquid biopsies involving circulating tumor cells in multiple types of solid tumors, the fellowship program also consists of studying epigenetic mechanisms regulating solid tumor as well as pharmacogenomics and immunogenomic based prediction of response to therapy.

Learn More About This Fellowship
Postdoctoral Lab-based Translational Molecular Medicine Fellowship - Saint John's Cancer Institute