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 Genetic Sequencing -Saint Johns Cancer Institute HTG Molecular Saint Johns Cancer Institute

Our Mission and Vision

Translational Molecular Medicine - Identifying genomic and epigenomic molecular biomarkers
Scientists identify genomic and epigenomic molecular biomarkers – Saint John’s Cancer Institute

The mission of the Translational Molecular Medicine Research department is 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 and goal is devoted to clinical translational research, collaborating with physicians and other scientists to improve cancer patient healthcare and clinical outcomes.

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 the management of cancer patients and elevate modern therapeutics. In addition, we aim to fully understand ubiquitin and ubiquilin as they relate to tumor regulatory pathways and translational responses to therapy resistance.

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.

Main Projects

Translational Molecular Research using nanoString
Translational Molecular Research using nanoString technology – Saint John’s Cancer Institute
  • 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.
  • The Molecular Research Department also 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.

Partnership & Collaboration

academic-and-industry-collborations-saint-johns-cancer-institute 2021
Academic and Industry Collaborators of Saint John’s Cancer Institute

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 375 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. The department has been supported by NIH/NCI grants for melanoma translational studies since 1992 while support for breast cancer has been provided by FFANY, ABC, Gonda, California Breast Cancer Program, DOD, and Komen foundations. Studies in prostate cancer have been supported by ABC and DOD in the past. Recent support has been provided by the Adeleson Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) which include Brain Metastasis and Epigenetic Sequence Platform Core, as Dr. Hoon is a member of the program. Additional major grant support include NCI Melanoma SPORE from the University of Penn, S. Riley Early Detection Pancreas Cancer, and the NIH NCI Preventative mushroom grant via City of Hope.

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

  1. The identification of CTCs and CFNA in blood and urine for diagnosis and prognosis of patients during follow up.
  2. The understanding of different epigenetic mechanisms that regulate regional and distant(brain, visceral organ) metastasis.
  3. Assessment of ubiquitin and ubiquilin pathways that promote tumor progression and treatment resistance.
  4. Identification of mechanisms of primary brain and brain metastasis progression and tumor microenvironment interactions.
Saint John's Cancer Institute Translational Molecular Medicine Fellowship
Saint John’s Cancer Institute Translational Molecular Medicine Fellowship

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 the Molecular Oncology Fellowship

News and Events

SABCS 2021 San Antonio Beast Cancer Symposium

2021 Conferences and Invited Speakers:

  • NextGen Omics US: March 29- March 30 – About: Bringing together leading omics experts from around the world and comprised of three outstanding programmes, delegates can expect to benefit from critical discussions in the future of Next Generation Sequencing, Multi-omic Single Cell Analysis (including Spatial Transcriptomics) and Genome editing in Drug Discovery and Therapeutic Development. Following this is a dedicated Digital Day delivered through our online event platform.
    (More Info:
  • Molecular Medicine Tri-Con (29th Annual) : Feb 21 – Feb 23 2022 -: Over the past 28 years, the Tri-Conference has served as the leading international meeting place for the precision medicine community. As the world faces the challenges from the pandemic recovery, Cambridge Healthtech Institute once again takes the leadership role of bringing together the life science community at the TRI-CON 2022. Join thousands of international thought leaders —in-person and/or virtually— to discuss the latest research and technologies in precision medicine and precision health; innovation in point-of-care and molecular diagnostics and market access strategies; advanced diagnostics for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases; precision oncology diagnostics and therapeutics; liquid biopsy and minimal residual disease testing; biomarkers and companion diagnostics; and new technologies for spatial multi-omic analysis.
    (More Info:

Positions Available

The Department is looking for postdoctoral fellows who have experience in translational molecular CTC and cfNA research. Also postdoctoral fellows experience in Cancer Epigenetics as well as metastasis regulatory mechanisms.

  • There are no current positions that are open at this time.


Dave Hoon, M.Sc., Ph.D., Program Director 

Irene Ramos, MSc, Translational Molecular Medicine Department Laboratory Manager


Dr. Dave Hoon has published more than 400 peer-reviewed and co-authored articles. See articles at

Translational Research - Publications - NIH Articles - Dr. David Hoon