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Our Science – Van Dyke Website

Terry A. Van Dyke, Ph.D.

Portait Photo of Terry Van Dyke
Mouse Cancer Genetics Program
Head, Cancer Pathways and Mechanisms
Senior Investigator
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 560, Room 32-32
P.O. Box B
Frederick, MD 21702-1201


Dr. Van Dyke received her Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from the University of Florida in 1981. As a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Arnold Levine's lab in the early 1980s, she characterized one of the first transgenic cancer models. In 1993, Dr. Van Dyke joined the University of North Carolina (UNC), where she is currently a Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Genetics with a joint appointment in Biochemistry and Biophysics. UNC affiliations include the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Neuro-science Center, Program in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, and Carolina Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence.

In 1998, Dr. Van Dyke became the Facility Director of the UNC Animal Models Core Facility and in 1999, she established the Carolina Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Center (MMRRC), one of four in the country.

On the national level, Dr. Van Dyke has been a leader in the utilization of mouse models to advance our understanding of cancer. In 1997, she served as co-chair of an NCI director's advisory committee tasked with making recommendations on the use of mouse models to advance cancer research. Several NCI initiatives were launched as a result, including establishment of the Mouse Models Human Cancer Consortium (MMHCC) for which she served as co-chair for two years.

Terry Van Dyke arrived at the NCI in September 2007 in a visiting capacity as chief of the Mouse Cancer Genetics Program (MCGP) under an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) agreement. The IPA mechanism allowed for a rapid transition into the MCGP leadership while finalizing obligations at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) School of Medicine. In January of 2011, Dr. Van Dyke resigned her position at the UNC-CH and became an NCI employee. Previous appointments were at the UNC-CH (professor 1997-2010; associate professor 1993-1997) and the University of Pittsburgh (associate professor 1992-1993; assistant professor 1986-1992). Her laboratory has utilized genetically modified mice as the major approach to studying cancer mechanisms since its establishment. The work has been continuously funded by grants from the NCI, with additional support over the years from the DOD, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Goldhirsh Foundation, Brain Tumor Society, Samuel Waxman Foundation, and Mary Kay Ash Foundation. In addition to research, notable accomplishments at University of Pittsburgh included the establishment and directorship of two transgenic core facilities, reorganization and directorship of graduate studies in Biological Sciences, development and teaching of several undergraduate and graduate courses, and acquisition of an NIH Career Development Award. At that time she was also a Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Genetics with a joint appointment in Biochemistry and Biophysics at the UNC-CH.


The Van Dyke laboratory (Cancer Pathways and Mechanisms Section) studies the mechanisms of cancer etiology at many levels (genetic, molecular, cell, organ, organism). Genetically engineered mice (GEM) are used to examine cause/effect relationships in initiation and progression of disease within the natural microenvironment. In vivo studies of de novo tumorigenesis are coupled with cell culture and transplantation studies, and modern technologies are applied to the problem (e.g., genetic and cellular mouse manipulation, global molecular assessment and live animal imaging). With an interest in the cell specificity, we have examined tumorigenesis in multiple tissue and cell types including mammary, prostate, ovarian, and choroid plexus epithelia and astrocytes. Roles of tumor suppressors, pRb, p53 and Pten, have been identified genetically, with additional mechanistic understanding in several cases. We have also contributed to the study of mitotic regulation with the aim to determine role(s) in cancer. Currently the lab focuses on basic mechanistic studies of high grade astrocytoma and prostate cancer. The cross comparison of disease initiation and progression in these models, often driven by similar pathways/networks, relative to our understanding of the cognate human cancer, is used to develop and query hypotheses of etiology. Deep analyses of specific biological problems in cancer focus on etiology mechanisms invasion, metastasis (prostate cancer) and target cell type(s). Finally, these studies have produced highly penetrant preclinical cancer models useful for translation to human studies, including biomarker and therapeutic discovery and small animal imaging.

This page was last updated on 11/18/2013.