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Arul Chinnaiyan

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Primary Appointment: Pathology Department
Primary PIBS Dept.: Molecular and Cellular Pathology
Other PIBS Depts.: Bioinformatics, Cancer Biology
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  Dr. Chinnaiyan is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology and Professor of Pathology and Urology at the University of Michigan Medical School, and is also a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and Bioinformatics Program. In 2007, he was named the Director of a new initiative at the University called the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology (MCTP), the goal of which is to develop new molecular tests and therapeutics for human disease with a primary focus on cancer. Dr. Chinnaiyan is a board certified Clinical Pathologist and currently serves as Director of the Division of Pathology Research Informatics and Director of Cancer Bioinformatics.

In addition to receiving his undergraduate degree and medical training at Michigan, he received his Ph.D. in Pathology and has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of how cells die (a process called apoptosis). Dr. Chinnaiyan has received a number of awards including the Basic Science Research Award awarded by the University of Michigan Medical School Dean’s Office, the AMGEN Outstanding Investigator Award, the Pew Biomedical Scholar Award, the Burroughs Welcome Foundation Award in Clinical Translational Research, the 2006 Benjamin Castleman Award, the 2007 Ramzi Cotran Young Investigator Award and was recently appointed as an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Chinnaiyan was also elected as a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Dr. Chinnaiyan’s laboratory has focused on functional genomic, proteomic and bioinformatics approaches to study cancer for the purposes of understanding cancer biology as well as to discover clinical biomarkers. He and his collaborators have characterized a number of biomarkers of prostate cancer including AMACR, EZH2 and hepsin. AMACR is being used clinically across the country in the assessment of cancer in prostate needle biopsies.

The landmark study thus far from Dr. Chinnaiyan’s laboratory is the discovery of TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusions prostate cancer. TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusions are specific markers of prostate cancer as well as presumably function as rational targets for this disease. This finding potentially redefines the molecular basis of prostate cancer as well as other common epithelial cancers. The team involved with these studies recently was awarded the 2007 AACR Team Science Award. His laboratory is currently looking for ways to target this gene fusion as well as discover similar gene fusions in other common epithelial tumors such as those derived from the breast, lung, and colon His laboratory also developed the popular cancer profiling bioinformatics resource called Oncomine ( which is freely available to the academic community (hosting nearly 10,000 registered users from over 30 countries).