Investigators

Find a Member

Full Investigator List

Finding the right member is just a click away.

Preclinical Discovery / Development of Novel Targets / Pathways and Novel Agents investigators

Daniel Altschuler

Daniel Altschuler

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-648-9751 altschul@pitt.edu Biomedical Science Tower, E-1348
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Altschuler's laboratory studies mechanisms of signal transduction by the second messenger cAMP in cell proliferation. cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and Exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac) represent the main effectors of cAMP action. Both pathways converge at the level of the small GTPase Rap1b, via its Epac-mediated activation and PKA-mediated phosphorylation. The role of Rap1 activation (Epac) and phosphorylation (PKA) coordinating the early rate-limiting events in cAMP-dependent cell proliferation are studied using a multidisciplinary approach including molecular and cellular biology techniques in vitro, as well as in vivo validation using transgenic/knock in technologies in endocrine tumor models.

Read More about Daniel Altschuler
Jan Beumer

Jan Beumer

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-623-3216 beumerjh@upmc.edu G27E Hillman Cancer Center
5117 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Beumer is a tenured Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences with a secondary appointment in the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, and holds the distinction of Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT). He is intimately involved in the design, execution, supervision, and data analysis of PK and metabolic studies covering the entire spectrum of preclinical vitro-vivo, clinical phase 1, 2, 3, and post-marketing studies, with funding in each phase. Dr. Beumer is PI on one of only 3 NCI N02 Preclinical Pharmacology Contracts, mPI of one of the two U24 PK consortia supporting the NCI ETCTN efforts, and he is mPI of one of only 8 clinical ETCTN UM1 Grants, funding the Pittsburgh Cancer Consortium. He directs the Cancer Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics Facility (CPPF) of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center (HCC), traditionally also the PK core of the NSABP-RTOG-GOG (NRG) and ALLIANCE. He has served as co-chair of the NCI Investigational Drug Steering Committee (IDSC), is co-chair of the IDSC Pharmacology Task Force, and is a founding member of the “TDM in oncology” committee of the International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Toxicology (IATDMCT).

Dr. Beumer has over 190 peer-reviewed publications, and has presented at national and international venues. He is also the Editor-in-Chief (U.S.) of the journal Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, and was awarded the 2021 Michaele Christian Oncology Drug Development Award and Lectureship by the National Cancer Institute Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program.

Dr. Beumer’s interests are the development of anticancer agents partnering with both NCI and pharmaceutical partners, focusing on early trials that aim to study the pharmacology (PK/PD) of these novel agents (first-in man, mass balance, organ dysfunction, etc). His laboratory is able to support clinical trials with pharmacokinetic analyses by LC-MS/MS up to 14C analysis in a variety of samples from mass balance studies.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • nucleoside analogues and epigenetic drugs,Pharmacokinetics and metabolism of anti-cancer drugs
Read More about Jan Beumer
Lan Coffman

Lan Coffman

Program: Cancer Biology

412-641-2016 coffmanl@mail.magee.edu The Assembly
5051 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh PA
Read More about Lan Coffman
Rivka Colen

Rivka Colen

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 623-3074 colenrr@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion, Suite 1A
5150 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • big data in imaging and imaging–omics,co-clinical trials using imaging and radiogenomics,imaging in pseudoprogression and immunotherapy,Radiogenomics,radiomics and radiome sequencing
Read More about Rivka Colen
John Comerci

John Comerci

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 641-5275 comercijt@upmc.edu Magee-Womens Hospital
300 Halket Street
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • cervical cancer,ovarian cancer,Photodynamic Therapy
Read More about John Comerci
Alexander Deiters

Alexander Deiters

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-624-5515 deiters@pitt.edu 1305 Chevron, Chevron Science Center
219 Parkman Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

The Deiters Lab works in the areas of Chemical Biology and Synthetic Biology, with the goal of developing novel approaches toward a better understanding of human health and disease. This includes 1) the discovery of small organic molecules that inhibit or activate specific biological pathways. Our discovered microRNA inhibitors have therapeutic implications in cancer and viral infections. 2) We are developing methods for specific covalent modification of proteins and cell surfaces with applications in inhibition of protein function and immunotherapy. 3) We are genetically re-wiring the circuitry of cells in order to give new functions to proteins and organisms. Our approach is based on the expansion of the genetic code with synthetic, unnatural amino acids. 4) Light is a unique control element that enables the regulation of biological processes with high spatial and temporal resolution. We are engineering light-responsive nucleic acids and proteins and are applying them to the optical control of cell signaling, gene editing, and protein degradation.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Amino Acid,Chemical biology,Imaging,medicinal chemistry,microRNA,miRNA,Nucleic Acid,oligonucleotide,optogenetics,photobiology,photochemistry,Protein Engineering,synthetic biology,synthetic chemistry
Read More about Alexander Deiters
Paul Floreancig

Paul Floreancig

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-624-8727 florean@pitt.edu 1403 Chevron Science Center
219 Parkman Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Our research is directed toward developing fundamentally new transformations and highlighting their utility for complex molecule synthesis.

Read More about Paul Floreancig
Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-383-6605 paj18@pitt.edu Salk Hall Room 1014
3501 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Johnston has over two decades of drug discovery experience in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic sectors. Since joining the University of Pittsburgh Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology in 2005 to help design and build the infrastructure for a high-throughput drug discovery screening center at the Drug Discovery Institute, Dr. Johnston has led 21 screening campaigns, and reconfigured the NCI 60 cell line assays for cancer drug combination screening. In 2011, Dr. Johnston joined the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the School of Pharmacy to establish chemical biology laboratories, where he has continued to conduct his research in high-throughput and high-content screening (HTS/HCS) assay development and implementation, and to establish drug discovery collaborations throughout the scientific community. His research has focused on pursuing chemical biology approaches to identify small molecules with the potential to be developed into new therapies for prostate cancer, melanoma and head and neck cancer.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • assay development,Drug Discovery,HCS,head and neck cancer,high content screening,high throughput screening,HTS,Melanoma,Prostate cancer,Squamous cell carcinoma
Read More about Paul Johnston
Kazunori Koide

Kazunori Koide

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-624-8767 koide@pitt.edu Chevron Science Center
219 Parkman Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

We are currently studying FR901464, a natural product that regulates cancer-related genes by novel mechanisms. This compound inhibits cancer proliferation at concentrations as low as 1 nM. To study FR901464, we completed a chemical total synthesis of this natural product. Combination of this powerful, stereocontrolled chemical synthesis and cell biology will provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of FR901464. More recently, we have developed an exceptionally active FR901464 analog (meayamycin) that inhibits tumor growth at 10 pM (analogouus to one pack of sugar (5 grams) in 400 Olympic swimming pools).

Research Interests and Keywords
  • anticancer agents,Organic synthesis of natural products
Read More about Kazunori Koide
Song Li

Song Li

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

sol4@pitt.edu 639 Salk Hall
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Li has broad knowledge in medicine, biology, and drug and gene delivery and has established a strong research program centered at the interface of biology and biotechnology. 
His lab has developed several novel delivery systems that are aimed to solve major issues in his fields through improved understanding of the fundamental aspects of drug formulations and comprehensive structure-activity relationship (SAR) study. His group proposed the concept of “new amphiphilic surfactants with interfacial drug-interactive motif”, which has helped to solve the problem of formulating many “hard-to-formulate” drugs (Molecular Pharmaceutics, 2013; Biomaterials, 2015). Another breakthrough from Dr. Li’s group is the development of ultrasmall nanocarriers for improved cancer treatment (Theranostics, 2020; Biomaterials, 2021, Materials Today, 2023). Dr. Li’s group has discovered that covalent coupling of nucleosides-based drugs (such as gemcitabine, azacitidine, cytarabine, decitabine, and others) into an amphiphilic polymeric carrier led to a drastic reduction in sizes from ~150 to ~15 nm. This system is highly effective in codelivery of various front-line water-soluble and water-insoluble drugs. Due to its ultrasmall size, this technology holds promise in overcoming the challenge of ineffective tumor accumulation and penetration seen in cancer patients. More recently, his group has developed another new delivery system that is highly efficient in tumor accumulation through targeting CD44 on tumor endothelial cells (ECs) (Nature Nanotechnology, 2023). This system is suitable for delivery of small molecules or nucleic acids alone or codelivery of both types of therapeutics.

In addition to the development of improved delivery systems, Dr. Li’s group has sought to uncover new mechanisms involved in resistance to chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy. His lab has recently identified glutamate metabotropic receptor 4 (GRM4) as a novel negative regulator in antitumor immunity in multiple tumor models (Science Advances, 2021). More recently, Dr. Li’s group has identified Xkr8 as a novel gene that is critically involved in chemotherapy-induced immune suppression and cancer relapse, suggesting a new combination therapy via targeting Xkr8 (Nature Nanotechnology, 2023). 

Research Interests and Keywords
  • gene regulation,Targeted delivery of therapeutics
Read More about Song Li
Daniel Premkumar

Daniel Premkumar

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-692-9233 Daniel.Premkumar@chp.edu John G. Rangos Research Center
Children's Hospital Drive 45th and Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Glioblastomas are highly invasive primary tumors with poor prognosis despite current therapies. Individual targeted therapies have failed to offer long-term survival benefits, although combinations of rationally selected inhibitors may have significant therapeutic applicability for these tumors. Studies by our group and others have also shown aberrant, constitutive activation of NF-kB and Akt as common features of malignant gliomas, supporting their functional role in contributing to apoptosis resistance and refractory growth despite cytotoxic chemotherapy, irradiation, and molecularly targeted therapies. This activation may in part reflect deletions of NF-kB inhibitor-alpha, a common alteration in malignant gliomas, dysregulated stimulation by cell surface tyrosine kinases, such as EGFR and PDGFR-alpha, which are amplified in molecular subsets of malignant gliomas, and mutations in PTEN and other molecular targets that drive Akt and NF-kB activation. Thus, new therapeutic approaches are urgently needed. We have demonstrated that inhibition of NF-kB, Akt, and Bcl-2 may constitute a promising strategy to enhance the efficacy of conventional therapies, such as irradiation and cytotoxic chemotherapy, and potentiate the activity of agents targeted against growth signaling mediators.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • anti-glioma therapeutics,Cancer pharmacology,Glioblastoma,Signal Transduction
Read More about Daniel Premkumar
Mark Schurdak

Mark Schurdak

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 648-3090 mes234@pitt.edu 10045 BST 3
3501 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My research interests center on applying a Quantitative Systems Pharmacology (QSP) approach that integrates experimental and computational analyses to understand disease and drug mechanisms, which will lead to developing more effective therapeutic strategies.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Drug Discovery,high-content screening,Pharmacology,Quantitative Systems Pharmacology (QSP),Systems Biology
Read More about Mark Schurdak
D Lansing Taylor

D Lansing Taylor

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

dltaylor@pitt.edu 10045 Biomedical Science Tower 3
3501 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My research has been rooted in developing and applying new technologies involving “high content” imaging methods to biomedical challenges. We have been applying quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) to multiple disease areas including liver diseases and solid tumor cancers.  My interests include integrating QSP with patient microphysiology systems (MPS) to generate pathophysiological experimental and computational models to create a powerful paradigm in drug discovery and development. The latter has led to developing patient digital twins and patient biomimetic twins for liver diseases together with creating the BioSystics-Analytics Platform to manage, analyze, share and computationally model patient and biomimetic twin data. We spun-off BioSystics that merged with Nortis, Inc. to form NUMA Biosciences, a precision medicine company. In addition, our development of next generation spatial biology analytics for highly multiplexed fluorescence image data from patients led to the formation of PredxBio to address patient heterogeneity in drug discovery and development.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Metabolic-Dysfunction Associated Steatotic Liver Disease (MASLD),Microphysiology Systems,Solid Tumor Cancers,Spatial Biology
Read More about D Lansing Taylor
Liza Villaruz

Liza Villaruz

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

villaruzl@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5150 Centre Avenue 5th Floor
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Liza C. Villaruz is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Co-Leader of the Immunotherapy and Drug Development Center at Hillman. She is a clinical and translational investigator in lung cancer with a focus on early drug development. She has active involvement in current clinical trials and a strong track record of successful development of institutional clinical trials with the National Cancer Institute and with industry partners.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Clinical trials in lung cancer,novel therapeutics
Read More about Liza Villaruz
Andreas Vogt

Andreas Vogt

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

avogt@pitt.edu 10047 BST3
3501 5th Ave
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My major research interests center around the discovery of small molecules with phenotypic assays in clinically relevant cellular and whole organism models. It is becoming increasingly clear that better models of the in vivo milieu are needed to improve the discovery of new drug candidates. Zebrafish, C. elegans, and Drosophila in particular provide unique opportunities to discover novel potential therapeutics using functional assays in a living animal as a complement to cellular and tissue model approaches. Together with members in the Departments of Neurology and Developmental Biology, I have established methodology for zebrafish chemical screening, generated automated image analysis tools for quantification of reporter gene expression, and automated neurobehavioral assays in multiwell plate formats. Currently, active zebrafish discovery projects include kidney and heart regeneration, angiogenesis and vascular malformations, early safety assessment, and neurodegenerative diseases. Cancer-related research efforts include the discovery of small molecule modulators of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatases (MKPs), PUMA, profilin-1, and estrogen receptor alpha as treatments for metastatic breast and colon cancer.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Breast Cancer,Drug Discovery,dual specificity phosphatase,high-content screening,phenotypic assays,Zebrafish
Read More about Andreas Vogt
Qiming Wang

Qiming Wang

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

qjw1@pitt.edu E1354 BSTWR
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • Cancer pharmacology,drug discovery ,protein kinases & phosphatases,Signal Transduction,structural pharmacology
Read More about Qiming Wang
Peter Wipf

Peter Wipf

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-624-8606 pwipf@pitt.edu Chevron Science Center, Suite 758
219 Parkman Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

The Wipf group develops tools of synthetic organic chemistry in the search for innovative new therapies and therapeutics. We identify original synthetic methods, strategies and molecular mechanisms, and we apply them in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology, total synthesis, and natural products chemistry. We select target molecules on the basis of their unique architectures and biological activities, as well as for showcasing our synthetic methods. We employ insights from flow and photochemistry, material science and nanoparticle research to improve synthetic access and modify the properties of our target compounds. Most significantly, we are committed to collaborative drug discovery and development in diverse therapeutic areas, including oncology, neurodegeneration, fibrosis, neuromuscular diseases, inflammation, and immunology.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Anti-cancer therapeutics,Anti-Inflammatory Agents,Drug Discovery,heterocyclic chemistry,kinase inhibitors,medicinal chemistry,mitochondrial targeting,natural products,Necrotic Enterocolitis,organic synthesis,Potassium and calcium channel agonists,Prostate cancer,radiation dermatitis,radiation mitigation,Radiation Protection,reactive oxygen species scavengers,Toll-Like Receptors
Read More about Peter Wipf
Wen Xie

Wen Xie

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

wex6@pitt.edu 633 Salk Hall
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

The research focus of Dr. Xie's laboratory is nuclear receptor-mediated transcriptional regulation of genes that encode drug metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters. In addition to metabolizing drugs, the same enzyme and transporter systems are responsible for the homeostasis of endogenous chemicals. Therefore, besides drug metabolism and disposition, this regulation has broad implications in many human diseases, including liver diseases (fatty liver, liver fibrosis, liver cancer, and autoimmune hepatitis), endocrine disorders, metabolic syndrome, and cancers. Dr. Xie’s research is conducted using a combination of molecular biology and genetically engineered mice that include tissue and cell type-specific transgenic, knockout and humanized mice.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Breast Cancer,colon cancer,Drug metabolism,gene regulation,liver disease,metabolic syndrome,nuclear hormone receptors,Prostate cancer
Read More about Wen Xie

View Investigators by Last Name

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Top