Welcome to the home page of Tor Erik Rusten's group Tumor-Host Biology

Our overarching interest is to understand the mechanisms by which tumor and host cells mutually engage each other in reciprocal interactions to facilitate carcinogenesis through cell signaling and transfer of nutrients.

Tumor-host interactions occur both locally in the tumor microenvironment and systemically causing organ dysfunction such as in cancer cachexia - the metabolic reprogramming and catastrophic wasting of muscle and adipose tissue. We believe that studying these processes in the fruit fly animal model system can uncover new ways to intercept carcinogenesis and systemic effects initiated by tumor presence.

José Teles Reis, Caroline Dillard, Alicia Alfonso Gomez, Martine Ingolfsrud, Paula Ruiz, Tor Erik Rusten, Min Deng, Dan Liu, Swarupa Panda

 Some of our models



The movie shows developing cancer cells (Cyan) seemingly outcompeting and ingesting neighboring epithelial cells of the microenvironment (Red). Courtesy: Jose T Reis



In order to mechanistically understand how tumor and non-tumor cells and organs
communicate to foster tumor growth and cause cancer cachexia we develop novel genetic
tools in Drosophila. We now have tools in hand to selectively and independently manipulate
tumor and either tumor microenvironment or somatic organs in vivo. We employ a wide array
of techniques and collaborate with experts in cell biology, genetics, imaging, tumor biology,
metabolism, bioinformatics and clinical cancer cachexia in order to survey, measure and
mechanistically understand these complex aspects of cancer biology.
In parallel to in vivo work in flies, we utilize human organoid and spheroid cell culture to
understand cellular mechanisms controlling cell polarity, morphogenesis and cell-cell
communication, the disruption of which is set off by cancer-driving mutations and underlies
early tumor development.

See the awesome videos WHY USE THE FLY? and SMALL FLY BIG IMPACT or read more about the use of Drosophila in science here.

If you are looking for how to get rid of fruit fly infestation in your home, see this video (in Norwegain)


We collaborate with the research groups of:

  • Eyal Gottlieb, TICC, Haifa, Israel
  • Rita Sousa-Nunes, King's College, London, UK
  • Todd schoborg, University of Wyoming, Wyoming, US
  • Terje Johansen, University of Tromsø, Norway
  • Heinrich Jasper, Genentech, California, US
  • Ditte S Andersen & Julien Colombani, University of Copenhagen
  • Harald Stenmark, Institute for Cancer Research, OUH, Oslo, Norway
  • Jorrit Enserink, Institute for Cancer Research, OUH, Oslo, Norway
  • Jørgen Wesche,Institute for Cancer Research, OUH, Oslo, Norway
  • Anne Simonsen, University of Oslo, Norway

Selected publications

Contact information

Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, Institute for Cancer Research
The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Montebello, N-0379 Oslo, Norway
Phone +47 22 78 19 20 (Rusten), Switchboard: +47 22 93 40 00
Email: Tor.Erik.Rusten@rr-research.no

Open positions Positions available

Post Docs and PhD students

We are always looking for talented and motivated Post Docs and PhD students that wants to join the lab.

If you are interested please contact Tor Erik Rusten by email well in advance to be able to secure funding.

Funding opportunities

Post Doctoral fellowship:

PhD fellowships: