Colorectal Cancer Research Program

  • Dr. Mohammad Azhar Aziz

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Cancer is now understood to be a systems biology disease with integration of medical information from various other areas also necessary. Evidence continues to mount regarding the increased role and significance of altered metabolism and microenvironment on growth of colorectal cancer. An integrated understanding of causal factors for CRC would lead to better diagnostic and prevention strategies.

Our focus on early and accurate diagnosis and prevention will help mitigate the effect of cancer on the Saudi population. Proposed research will help advice in formulating national policies on the prevention of colorectal cancers with strong genetic influence. Screening, change in diet and lifestyle, and patient registries based on our research will help reverse the course of increasing incidence in Saudi Arabia.

Cancer statistics in Saudi Arabia are growing at an alarming rate as reported by recent 2010 data. Colorectal cancer tops the list among males. Research that can lead to better prevention, therapy and policy-making will be helpful in decreasing its prevalence and thus the burden on healthcare facilities. It has been achieved in other parts of the world and is feasible in KSA as well. Our research focus areas will include targeting metastatic stage for clinical benefits, understanding basic biology to develop realistic goals in cancer research, and advising on policies for preventative measures to mitigate the effects that this disease has on the Saudi population and translate this knowledge for world-wide application.

Research Focus Areas
Target metastatic stage for clinical benefits

Although Stage I and II have shown improvements in response to new therapies, further stages and metastatic colorectal cancer have worse prognosis. 50-60% of patients develop metastasis. Patients with stage IV colon cancer may have synchronous liver, lung or peritoneal metastasis. 5-year survival rate drops sharply from 95% for stage I to <5% for stage IV (Aranda E. This class of patients would get most benefitted from newer therapies and biomarkers. Our earlier research has data comparing normal and primary tumors. One of the objectives of this research program will be to follow up patients and carry out studies with samples from metastasis. An integrative approach using latest tools to study genomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics of these three stages will be helpful in finding better biomarkers for diagnostic, prognostic and predictive value. We have already standardized methodologies for genomics and transcriptomic studies. Studying metabolomics, TME, and preclinical drug discovery will be new dimensions which will be facilitated through collaborations.

We aim to exploit the established capability of KAIMRC in generating high throughput data. Further, we will be able to establish assays for carrying out functional validation of the target molecules and networks.

Understand basic biology to develop realistic goals in cancer research

Mechanistic studies and basic science pursuits in understanding the causal factors of colorectal cancer would serve as cardinal points for guiding future clinical trials with strong evidence. With the help of our integrative approaches better understanding of colorectal cancer would be generated. This will help guide the preventive measures that can be implemented through advocating public health policies relevant to the region of Saudi Arabia.

Advise policy making for preventive measures

Evidence is abundant to suggest the efficacy of preventive measures in all types of solid tumors including colorectal cancer. Screening methods, preventive surgeries, change in lifestyle and nutrition have shown to be very effective in reversing the increasing trend of cancers worldwide. We have a proposal for colorectal cancer preventive program based on strong molecular evidence. This program will advise informed policies that will help in early detection and prevention of cancer.


Ph.D. Biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2004

M.S.   Biotechnology, Aligarh Muslim University, 1998


Dec 2014-Present, Team Leader, Colorectal Cancer Research Program at KAIMRC, Riyadh, KSA

Feb 2010 – Present, Research Scientist at King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, Riyadh, KSA

2008 – 2010, Department of Cancer Biology, The Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA

2005 – 2008, Department of Radiation Oncology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA

1999-2005, School of Biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Skills & Research Interests


Experienced at developing integrative approach towards cancer therapeutics.
Experienced in setting up new scientific facilities from scratch
Experienced in molecular/cell biology, protein chemistry techniques
Expertise: Cytogenetics and gene expression Microarray, Molecular biology, cell biology, Protein chemistry, Immunoassay, developing in vitro and in vivo assays, RNAi
Proficient in using bioinformatics softwares.
Certified Ingenuity pathway analyst

Research Interest

Integrative approach to develop colorectal cancer prevention strategies, diagnostics and therapeutics

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