Program Members

Co-Leaders

Adam Brufsky

Adam Brufsky

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

brufskyam@upmc.edu 300 Halket St
Suite 4628
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Brufsky's research interests include novel clinical therapeutics for breast cancer, bone-breast cancer interactions and therapeutics, molecular biology of metastatic breast cancer, and novel management strategies for metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Brufsky manages approximately 30 clinical trials investigating various aspects of breast cancer etiology and treatment. His main clinical interests are in breast cancer medical oncology with a particular interest in metastatic breast cancer.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Breast Cancer,Clinical Trials,molecular biology of breast cancer
Read More about Adam Brufsky
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

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Members

Kalil Abdullah

Kalil Abdullah

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-647-7614 abdullahkg@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5150 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My laboratory is focused on developing novel clinical models of glioma and identifying druggable targets to facilitate early phase clinical trials.

Gliomas are intensely heterogenous tumors that not only contain numerous cell types, but also demonstrate the ability to transition between different phenotypic states. This complexity has made developing model systems that recapitulate human tumor biology both difficult and essential. Traditionally, models of gliomas are 2-dimensional cell lines and only represent certain subtypes of the highest-grade glioma, glioblastoma. This is because the unique biology of lower grade gliomas has prevented them from being studied either outside of the lab or in animals. We have created ex-vivo culture systems that allow us to investigate critical aspects of the tumor microenvironment, immune response, and discover targets for therapy. Our laboratory has previously shown the ability to establish lower grade glioma organoids in vitro, maintain those cultures for extended periods of time, hibernate, and then reanimate tumor tissue without loss of either genetic or phenotypic fidelity. Our work also includes extensive and sophisticated live-cell imaging analysis that allows for longitudinal, non-invasive assessment of organoid response to treatment.
Our organoid model systems, in addition to glioma stem cell and mouse models, allow us to perform highly sophisticated assessments of drug response across platforms, and identify rare but critical druggable targets in gliomas. These analyses include complex metabolic tracing and immune cell response assessment. Despite the fundamental principles of genomics, immunology, and cellular cancer biology that underlie our work, our group focuses on projects that have high potential for immediate clinical translation.

Read More about Kalil Abdullah
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.

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Leonard Appleman

Leonard Appleman

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-648-6507 applemanlj@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5230 Center Ave., Suite 567
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • experimental cancer therapeutics
  • Kidney cancer and other genitourinary malignancies
Read More about Leonard Appleman
Parul Barry

Parul Barry

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 641-4600 barrypn@upmc.edu UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital
300 Halket Street
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Barry is interested in breast and gynecologic cancer research specifically related to preoperative and salvage radiation therapies. Dr. Barry is a board-certified radiation oncologist and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital.

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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
Simone Brixius-Anderko

Simone Brixius-Anderko

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

734-353-1247 sib51@pitt.edu Salk Pavilion Office 305
335 Sutherland Dr
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Research in my laboratory is focused on cytochrome P450 enzymes (P450), their role in human health and disease, and their potential as drug targets. While most studies focus on steroidogenic P450 enzymes as drug targets for prostate and breast cancer treatment, my goal is to evaluate the potential of targeting fatty acid metabolizing P450 enzymes for cancer therapy. I am particularly interested in the CYP4F enzyme family of fatty acid -hydroxylases which, according to our findings, are upregulated in several cancer type. CYP4F enzymes are involved in the metabolism of arachidonic acid to the potent lipid mediator 20-hydroxyeicosatetraenois acid (20-HETE). While 20-HETE regulates the blood pressure in healthy individuals, it also promotes cell proliferation and migration and tumor angiogenesis in cancer. An unselective inhibition of 20-HETE producing CYP4 enzymes leads to a significant decrease of lung tumor size in mouse models. However, the clinical exploitation of these enzymes has not been realized yet due to high protein sequence similarities, the absence of isoform specific inhibitors, and a substantial lack of structural and functional information. Our long term goal is to establish CYP4F enzymes as novel potential drug targets for cancer therapeutics. Recent efforts in my lab were focused on the isoform CYP4F11 in lung cancer. My team has shown for the first time that a transient CYP4F11 knockdown in lung cancer cell lines leads to decreased cell proliferation and migration which is associated with decreased 20-HETE production. We also generated recombinant human CYP4F11 protein to conduct in-depth biochemical studies to probe enzyme function and to solve structures of CYP4F11 using X-ray protein crystallography. We aim to examine other CYP4F isoforms in various cancer types, unravel their cellular function in addition to 20-HETE production, and solve protein structures for the directed design of selective drugs.

Read More about Simone Brixius-Anderko
Adam Brufsky

Adam Brufsky

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

brufskyam@upmc.edu 300 Halket St
Suite 4628
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Brufsky's research interests include novel clinical therapeutics for breast cancer, bone-breast cancer interactions and therapeutics, molecular biology of metastatic breast cancer, and novel management strategies for metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Brufsky manages approximately 30 clinical trials investigating various aspects of breast cancer etiology and treatment. His main clinical interests are in breast cancer medical oncology with a particular interest in metastatic breast cancer.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Breast Cancer
  • Clinical Trials
  • molecular biology of breast cancer
Read More about Adam Brufsky
Andrew Bukowinski

Andrew Bukowinski

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

Summary

Dr. Bukowinski is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  He cares for patients with a variety of oncologic diagnoses covering the spectrum of solid tumors, leukemia, and neuro-oncology. He serves as the UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh site Primary Investigator for the Pediatric Early Phase Clinical Trials Network (PEP-CTN) for clinical trials for the Children’s Oncology Group.

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Melissa Burgess

Melissa Burgess

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

burgessma@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5150 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My research is focused on clinical and translational studies of soft tissue and bone sarcomas. Currently, I am investigating an immunotherapy utilizing an anti-PD1 inhibitor for patients with advanced sarcomas. In the future, I plan to further study novel immunotherapeutic approaches for advanced sarcomas, particularly with combinatorial strategies.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • clinical and translational research
  • Immunotherapy
  • Medical Oncology
  • Sarcoma
Read More about Melissa Burgess
Yu-Chiao Chiu

Yu-Chiao Chiu

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 648-5023 YUC250@pitt.edu The Assembly, Suite 1218
5051 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Yu-Chiao (Chris) Chiu, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Chiu’s research interests include bioinformatics, machine learning, cancer genomics, and pharmacogenomics. The goal of his laboratory is to systematically model genomics and pharmacogenomics to better understand cancer biology and improve cancer therapy. His laboratory has been funded by NIH/NCI (K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award), NIH/OD (R03 and Administrative Supplement), UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Developmental Pilot Program, Pittsburgh Liver Research Center Pilot and Feasibility Grant, Leukemia Research Foundation, and Fund for Innovation in Cancer Informatics. To date, Dr. Chiu has published more than 100 journal articles and conference articles/abstracts. His research is well-recognized by the broad cancer and bioinformatics communities, including recent publications in Science Advances (highlighted by @NCIgenomics as the #1 favorite paper of 2021), BMC Medical Genomics (selected as Springer Nature Research Highlights in Genetics of 2019), and Bioinformatics Advances. Dr. Chiu’s membership in the Cancer Therapeutics Program of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center expands the impact of his research by teaming up with clinical, translational, and basic cancer scientists – to bridge cutting-edge computational algorithms to unmet needs in precision oncology.

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Haroon Choudry

Haroon Choudry

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

Read More about Haroon Choudry
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
Kathleen Dorritie

Kathleen Dorritie

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

Summary

Dr. Dorritie was previously involved in laboratory research focused on the development of novel therapeutic agents for acute myeloid leukemia. More recently, she has shifted her focus to early phase clinical trials in hematologic malignancies, specifically immune therapies for lymphoma and multiple myeloma. She is a member of the Cancer Therapeutics Team.  She has played a key role in the development of the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell and bispecific antibody programs at UPMC and serves as lead or co-investigator on several clinical clinical trials.

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Jan Drappatz

Jan Drappatz

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

drappatzj@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5150 Center Ave
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My research is directed towards the development of new therapies for primary and secondary brain tumors using targeted drugs, inhibitors of angiogenesis, and immunotherapies. I am also interested in the identification of molecular markers of prognosis in patients with malignant glioma and other primary brain tumors.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • brain tumors
  • CNS tumors
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glioma
  • Immunotherapy
  • neurologic complications of cancer
  • prognostic biomarkers
  • targeted therapies
Read More about Jan Drappatz
Genia Dubrovsky

Genia Dubrovsky

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 692-2852 dubrovskyge@upmc.edu 5117 Centre Ave
Room 1.46e
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My clinical and research interests are in the study of improved diagnostics and treatments for patients afflicted with pancreatic cancer. Specifically, in collaboration with researchers at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and at the University of Pittsburgh, I am active in the following research projects: 1) using surgical drain fluid to perform liquid biopsy for improved staging of patients with PDAC; 2) gamma-delta TIL therapy for patients with metastatic PDAC; 3) radiomics for improved pre-operative staging and risk-stratification for patients with PDAC; 4) novel drug delivery systems for improved regional therapy in patients with metastatic GI malignancies.

Read More about Genia Dubrovsky
Susannah Ellsworth

Susannah Ellsworth

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 623-6720 ellsworths3@upmc.edu Shadyside Hospital, Dept of Radiation Oncology
5230 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My primary research interests are investigating the effects of external beam radiation therapy on immune status and developing novel radiation therapy techniques for gastrointestinal cancers. Currently, I am working on developing methods for calculating radiation dosimetry to the immune system during external beam radiation therapy and employing these methods to develop new
strategies to reduce immune system dose and mitigate the risk of radiation-induced lymphopenia, which has been shown to be a negative prognostic factor in multiple solid tumors including  pancreatic cancer.

Read More about Susannah Ellsworth
Christian Fernandez

Christian Fernandez

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-383-8108 chf63@pitt.edu 307 Salk Pavilion
335 Sutherland Drive
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

The research in the laboratory of Dr. Fernandez focuses on improving cancer treatment and patient outcomes through various areas:

  1. Investigating drug-induced immunogenicity and liver injury.
  2. Developing targeted agents for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
  3. Preventing capecitabine-induced hand-foot syndrome.
  4. Studying the role of the NFAT transcription factor on immune cells.

The Fernandez lab aims to enhance treatment outcomes by understanding complex biological processes using pharmacogenomic approaches. Our work includes addressing the immunogenicity of protein-based therapeutics, studying drug-induced liver injury linked to chemotherapy, and personalizing treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemias. Ultimately, our translational research strives to reveal underlying mechanisms, identify druggable targets, and bridge bench work with clinical practice.

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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
Natasha Galanina

Natasha Galanina

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 648-6575 galaninan@upmc.edu Hillman Cancer Center
5150 Centre Ave, Suite 554
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

As a clinician investigator, I am interested in the development of novel, biologically-informed therapies for relapsed/refractory high grade lymphoma. In particular, my clinical research is focused on understanding the molecular genomic profile of each tumor in order to match it to cognate therapeutic agents, an approach that provides a foundation for precision medicine trials that create individualized treatment regimens for each patient. As part of this effort, I would like to align my research with the investigators in the Precision Medicine Institute and the Center for Immunotherapy. Additionally, I’m interested in investigating the biological underpinnings of virally-mediated malignancies including EBV-driven Hodgkin lymphoma and HIV associated cancers. To that effect, I have studied the effects of checkpoint blockade (CPB) in HIV-associated Kaposi’s sarcoma. This study was the first report to demonstrate the high efficacy and tolerability of CPB in this disease space and was subsequently recognized in an AACR press release. The development of novel agents and new effective combinations based on improved understanding of tumorigenesis has been the main goal of my academic career.

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Charles Geyer

Charles Geyer

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

Summary

Dr. Geyer’s research interests include the design, implementation, and analyses of phase III clinical trials in early breast cancer that evaluate new therapeutics and diagnostics with potential for changing existing standards of care. More broadly, his focuses include immunology and immunotherapy, cancer therapeutics, biology and virology, and genome stability. Dr. Geyer has co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and served as co-chair of steering committees for practice-changing international phase III studies such as the KATHERINE and OlympiA trials.

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Constantinos Hadjipanayis

Constantinos Hadjipanayis

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 647-6781 hadjipanayiscg2@upmc.edu 200 Lothrop Street
Suite F-158
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My research as a neurosurgeon-scientist has focused on the translation of new therapies and intraoperative visualization of glioblastoma (GBM). I direct the Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory in the Hillman Cancer Center studying the use of magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (MIONPs) for the targeted imaging and magnetic hyperthermia therapy (MHT) of GBM after convection-enhanced delivery (CED). This collaborative and translational NIH- funded research involves Johns Hopkins University and Penn State University developing a new treatment for GBM. My research is also focused on the study of fluorescence-guided surgery (FGS) and photodynamic therapy (PDT) of GBM. My team was the first to use Gleolan (5-ALA) and perform FGS on a GBM patient in the US in 2011. We also led the FDA effort for approval of 5-ALA (Gleolan) in the US in June 2017.

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Youko Ikeda

Youko Ikeda

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-383-5939 yoi4@pitt.edu A1219 Scaife Hall
3550 Terrace St
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Ikeda’s research interests focus on furthering the understanding of the various cellular mechanisms that regulate urinary bladder contractile and storage functions, as well as determining the consequences of neurogenic injury, chemical cystitis and ionizing radiation exposure to the lower urinary tract to elucidate novel therapeutic agents. Dr. Ikeda is currently investigating the senotherapeutic actions of soluble guanylate cyclase activators on radiation-induced cell senescence in the urinary bladder and orthotopic prostate tumors. This project is supported by the Hillman developmental pilot award and has since been expanded to a multi-PI R01 submission (R01CA285362) submitted with Dr. Anthony Kanai. 

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Annie Im

Annie Im

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

imap@upmc.edu Cancer Pavilion, Rm 555
5150 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

1) Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in older patients: My research focuses on developing strategies to improve treatment outcomes for older patients with AML. I oversee clinical trials that are focused in older AML. 2) Chronic graft-versus host disease (GVHD): Another focus is in the study of chronic GVHD and long-term follow-up of allogeneic stem cell transplant patients. I run our chronic GVHD and transplant survivorship clinic, and oversee clinical trials in acute and chronic GVHD.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
  • chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
Read More about Annie Im
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
Anders Josefsson

Anders Josefsson

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(443) 310-8595 anj112@pitt.edu 5117 Centre Avenue, Suite G.17b
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

I am PhD investigator and medical physicist with expertise in radiopharmaceutical dosimetry and modelling as well as PET- and SPECT-imaged based dosimetry. During my PhD studies, I developed small scale/micro dosimetry models for the thyroid gland to calculate the radiation absorbed doses when treated or exposed to α-particle or Auger-electron emitting radiohalogens (e.g., Astatine and Iodine isotopes). My post-doctoral work and research as a faculty at Johns Hopkins University focused on pre-clinical and clinical projects regarding image quantification and dosimetry of radiopharmaceutical therapy and diagnostics. I have worked extensively on pre-clinical studies using α-particle emitting radiopharmaceuticals for treatment against metastatic breast, prostate and melanoma cancers. This includes ex vivo imaging and quantification of organs/tissues of interest with the iQID-camera system, helping to determine the microscale distribution and activity concentrations of the α-particle emitting radiopharmaceutical within normal organs/tissues and tumors. I incorporate these iQID-camera images with dosimetric models to more accurately calculate and translate estimated radiation absorbed doses from pre-clinical models to the clinic. My research focuses are to develop improved analysis for dosimetry of targeted radiotherapeutics by incorporating and developing non-invasive imaging techniques (i.e. PET- and SPECT-imaging), microscale dosimetry models based on iQID-cameraimages, and more extensive evaluation of short and long-term toxicity of targeted α-particle therapy (TAT), particularly those with complex decay pathways.

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Anthony Kanai

Anthony Kanai

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 624-1430 ajk5@pitt.edu A1224 Scaife Hall
3550 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My lab’s cancer research, based on our NCI R01, is to determine if radioprotectants instilled in the urinary bladder prior to irradiation of pelvic or prostate tumors can protect against radiation cystitis without dampening treatment efficacy.  We utilize a mouse model of prostate cancer using orthotopic injections of TRAMPC-1 cells, to which mitochondrial targeted free-radical scavengers are instilled into the bladder using novel infrared guidance method; assuring the instillate enters the bladder and not the prostate.  Fractionated irradiation is used following a single drug installation to determine the duration of bladder protection; important as multiple instillations can lead to urinary tract infections.  As some irradiated tumor cells can become senescent, reestablishing tumorigenicity at a later time, we are also investigating the use of senolytic drugs post radiation therapy.  A potential cause of cell senescence is inhibition of mitophagy where damaged mitochondria cannot be cleared from cells for degradation in lysosomes.  Nitric oxide (NO•) plays a crucial role in both mitochondrial signaling and cell senescence.  We hypothesize that restoring NO•-dependent pathways and increasing cGMP/PKG levels may be beneficial in clearing senescent cells and preventing tumor recurrence and development of treatment resistance.  This one (irradiation) – two (senotherapeutics) punch approach offers the potential to eradicate greater numbers of tumor cells and clear any remaining senescent ones, thus treating tumors and reducing risk of their recurrence.

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Hayeon Kim

Hayeon Kim

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 641-4602 kimxhx2@upmc.edu Magee Womens Hospital
300 HALKET STREET
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

As an assistant director of outcomes research, my mission is to assess the value(s) of various treatments and clinical outcomes for cancer care via these tasks below:

1. Establish the infrastructure by collaborating with multi departments for outcomes analyses for cancer treatments.

2. Perform Cost effectiveness analyses and health economics in cancer treatments.

3. Assess various treatment and planning techniques that increase quality and outcomes in cancer care.

4. Serve as NRG oncology physics subcommittee for national clinical trials.

Read More about Hayeon Kim
Seungwon Kim

Seungwon Kim

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

kimsw2@upmc.edu 200 Lothrop Street
EEI, Suite 500
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • head and neck neoplasms
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
Read More about Seungwon Kim
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
Eric Lechman

Eric Lechman

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 623-7962 lechmane@upmc.edu UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Research Pavilion
5117 Centre Ave, Suite 1.46D
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My broad areas of expertise include human hematopoietic and leukemia stem cell biology. My research is focused on (1) understanding miRNA control of the molecular and signaling pathways that direct the cellular fate of normal and malignant human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and (2) elucidating the developmental, cellular and molecular origins of adult and pediatric leukemia. My research is guided by multi-omic analysis of primary patient samples/tissues and utilizes functional genomics in combination with xenotransplantation into immune deficient mice.

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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
Frank Lieberman

Frank Lieberman

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

liebermanf@upmc.edu Department of Neurology
811 Kaufmann Medical Building 3471 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • and management of CNS neoplasms
  • molecular genetics and molecular neuropathology in diagnosis
  • neuro-oncology
  • Prognosis
Read More about Frank Lieberman
Yan Lin

Yan Lin

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

yal14@pitt.edu 130 De Soto Street
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • Cancer bioinformatics
Read More about Yan Lin
Priscilla McAuliffe

Priscilla McAuliffe

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

mcauliffepf@upmc.edu 204 Craft Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. McAuliffe focuses on the surgical treatment of all breast diseases, with special interest and research emphasis on invasive lobular breast cancer, de-implementing low-value breast surgical care, pre-invasive neoplasms such as DCIS and LCIS, premenopausal and elderly breast cancer, breast conservation therapy, locally advanced breast cancer and axillary management. She collaborates with the Breast Disease Research Repository for breast biospecimens and leads several breast surgery clinical trials.

Read More about Priscilla McAuliffe
Jessie Nedrow

Jessie Nedrow

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(509) 339-3695 nedrowj@upmc.edu 5117 Centre Ave
Suite G.17b
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

I am an assistant professor of radiology and the co-director of the preclinical in vivo imaging facility (IVIF) at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. I have expertise in molecular imaging (PET, SPECT, optical), organic synthesis, peptide synthesis, conjugation and radiochemistry, targeted radiotherapy (α and β), and animal model of cancer. My research focus is on the development of novel radiopharmaceuticals for molecular imaging and targeted radiotherapy therapy. As the co-director of the IVIF I help investigators incorporate pre-clinical imaging to enhance their research through the IVIF as well as develop novel targeted. In addition, the IVIF provides laboratory support for clinical trials investigating radiopharmaceuticals at UPMC.

Read More about Jessie Nedrow
Alexander Olawaiye

Alexander Olawaiye

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

Read More about Alexander Olawaiye
Adam Olson

Adam Olson

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 623-6720 olsonac2@upmc.edu 5230 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

I am a clinical scientist in the department of Radiation Oncology whose academic career is focused on the rational use of radiation therapy in the context of multidisciplinary cancer therapeutics, specifically focusing on the role of radiation therapy with immunotherapy. I have active collaborations with Drs. Jason Luke and Riyue Bao in the TIIL lab to leverage complex datasets to identify optimal patients for whom radiation therapy might be most beneficial. I am committed to an investigative career at UPMC HCC and foresee an important role as a primary investigator in biomarker driven clinical trials as well as a collaborator with medical and surgical oncology to provide quality radiation oncology input and support for multimodality trials.

Read More about Adam Olson
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
Priya Rastogi

Priya Rastogi

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

rastogip@upmc.edu UPMC CancerCenter at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
300 Halket Street
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • Breast Cancer
  • Medical Oncology
Read More about Priya Rastogi
Robert Redner

Robert Redner

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

redner@pitt.edu 2.18A Hillman Research Pavilion
5117 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia
  • Acute promyelocytic leukemia
  • malignant and non-malignant hematology
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Read More about Robert Redner
Anwaar Saeed

Anwaar Saeed

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

Summary

Dr. Saeed’s research efforts are focused on immune modulatory approaches in patients with gastric & esophageal cancer, colon cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma as well as chemoprevention/ immunoprevention in the high-risk GI population. She has published more than 150 peer reviewed papers, posters and book chapters, and have led more than 40 clinical trials, focused on various immune modulatory regimens including but not limited to immune checkpoint inhibitor combinations with chemotherapy, other checkpoint inhibitors, antibody drug conjugates, bi-specific T cell engagers (BiTE), angiogenesis inhibitors, as well as immunotherapy combinations with regional approaches like stereotactic radiosurgery and intensity-modulated radiation therapy. She currently lead several investigator-initiated trials focused on novel targeted immunotherapy combinations including the ongoing phase I/II CAMILLA multicohort study looking at Cabozantinib plus Durvalumab with or without Tremelimumab in GI malignancies. Results from phase I/II part of the CAMILLA led to the development of the currently ongoing global pivotal trial, STELLAR 303, in patients with previously treated microsatellite stable colorectal cancer. She is also the study chair for a soon to open SWOG/intergroup NCI national trial (S2303) testing a novel chemo-immunotherapy regimen in patients with advanced gastric & esophageal adenocarcinoma. 

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Gastrointestinal Cancer
  • Immune checkpoints inhibitors
  • Immune modulators
  • Tumor Immune Microenvironment
Read More about Anwaar Saeed
Ibrahim Sahin

Ibrahim Sahin

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412)692 4724 ClinicalResearchServicesHCCGISurgOncEsophagealCenter@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5150 Centre Avenue 5th floor 563
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

I am a clinical investigator who designs clinical trials in the space of colorectal cancer for drug development. My clinical research interests are targeted therapeutics and immunotherapy. I also collaborate with translational scientists to conduct correlative sciences. My translational research interests include understanding resistance mechanisms to immunotherapy, biomarkers analysis for immune response and investigating mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapy.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • colorectal cancer
  • Immunotherapy
  • investigator-initiated clinical trials
  • Precision Medicine
  • translational science
Read More about Ibrahim Sahin
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
Gabriel Sica

Gabriel Sica

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 647-3238 sicagl@upmc.edu UPMC Presbyterian Hospital
200 Lothrop St
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My research has focused predominantly in the pathobiology of lung cancer and how the tumor microenvironment affects the natural biology and response to treatment. Working in collaboration with colleagues from the department of medical oncology we have discovered multiple possible biomarkers for disease management. In the future, I would like to integrate digital pathology analysis platforms into these studies. Specific topics of current investigation include: 1) Small cell lung carcinoma subtypes and genomics; 2) Morphologic features of lung cancer and its stroma, impact on natural biology; 3) Grading of Neuroendocrine Tumors; 4) Senescence in lung carcinoma immune response. In addition, in my role as the co-director of TARPS and as a member of TPIL, I hope to facilitate team based science, especially with regard to tissue based investigations.

Read More about Gabriel Sica
Ahmad Tafti

Ahmad Tafti

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 624-4180 tafti.ahmad@pitt.edu 6030 Forbes Tower
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

I am an Assistant Professor of Health Informatics in the Department of Health Information Management within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, with a secondary appointment at the Intelligent Systems Program (ISP). I am also leading our efforts at the Pitt HexAI Research Laboratory. I am also affiliated with the Center for AI Innovation in Medical Imaging (CAIIMI). Starting from August 2022, I am honored to serve our community as the Vice Chair of IEEE Computer Society at Pittsburgh. I have a deep passion for AI-Powered healthcare informatics and health data science with better patient diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment using largescale
multiple clinical data sources and advanced computational algorithms.
I am currently collaborating with Dr. Kurt Weiss on a research project entitled "Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Response to Therapy in Adult and Pediatric Sarcomas", awarded by Pitt's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). The main goal of the project is to develop, train, test, and validate deep learning medical image analysis algorithms and computer vision methods to predict response to therapy in sarcoma, localizing and characterizing CT and MRI findings in predicting response to the therapy.

Read More about Ahmad Tafti
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
Sarah Taylor

Sarah Taylor

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 641-5468 taylorse2@mail.magee.edu Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
300 Halket Street
Summary

Dr. Taylor’s research interests include targeted and novel treatments of gynecologic cancer, correlated biomarker development for defining personalized cancer therapy, and screening and early detection of gynecologic cancers, particularly in individuals with hereditary predisposition to cancer. Her collaborations extend to colleagues within the Women’s Cancer Research Group at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. As an interdisciplinary team of researchers, their focus is on overlapping research interests regarding patients’ quality of life, health services research, and patient-reported outcomes. This work is crucial to addressing all aspects of cancer care, which extends beyond cancer directed therapies.

Read More about Sarah Taylor
Pradeep Tyagi

Pradeep Tyagi

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-692-4119 tyagip@upmc.edu E313 Montefiore Hospital
3459 Fifth Ave
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Tyagi’s research interests include application of intravesical drug delivery techniques and urinary biomarkers to advance the diagnosis and care of bladder cancer, prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia and interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Bladder
  • drug delivery
  • Imaging
  • Intravsical
Read More about Pradeep Tyagi
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
Norman Wolmark

Norman Wolmark

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

Summary

Norman Wolmark, MD, has spent decades conducting groundbreaking research and early clinical trials in the treatment of breast and bowel cancers.  Many of his early studies were conducted at the University of Pittsburgh alongside the late Dr. Bernard Fisher. Dr. Wolmark serves as Chairman of the NSABP Foundation and as Group Chair and Contact Principal Investigator of the NCI-funded NRG Oncology research organization, which combined the legacy National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), and Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG). Dr. Wolmark is a member of a number of professional associations and organizations, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association of Cancer Research, and the American Surgical Association. He has authored more than 400 scientific publications and has served on the editorial boards of publications such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the Journal of Surgical Oncology, and Clinical Breast Cancer, as well as having served as a reviewer for journals such as the Annals of Internal Medicine, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, Cancer Research, and the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Wolmark lectures internationally and has been recognized for his invaluable contributions to practice-changing research. 

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Breast Cancer
  • colon cancer
  • Genetics
  • Immunotherapy
  • Surgery
Read More about Norman Wolmark
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
Irina Zabbarova

Irina Zabbarova

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-383-8771 ivz2@pitt.edu A1219 Scaife Hall
3550 Terrace St
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

About one-third of the patients treated for prostate cancer opts for surgical removal of their tumors, with the remaining undergoing external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) or brachytherapy, along with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT; e.g., Leuprolide). While irradiation destroys the majority of cancerous cells, surviving ones can become senescent and resistant to treatment with increased risk of tumor reemergence. We have preliminary data that cinaciguat, a soluble guanilate cyclase (sGC) activator, decreases Bcl-2/BAX to enhance clearance and prevent reemergence of TRAMP-C1 orthotopic tumors in irradiated mouse prostates and in culture. Cinaciguat is a heme mimetic that promotes the formation of a heterodimer capable of catalyzing the formation of cGMP. Moreover, as cinaciguat acts only on heme-free sGC which accumulates in cells experiencing high levels of oxidative/nitrosative stress, such as following EBRT, it acts locally at the tumor site without systemic side effects in normal tissue where reduced sGC-Fe2+ is responsive only to nitric oxide (NO•). We are investigating the benefits of cinaciguat in: i) decreasing the detrimental effect of sGCα1 overexpression through enhanced dimerization of sGC; ii) increases cGMP levels via heme-free sGC to decrease Bcl-2 levels and promote apoptotic clearance of senescence cells (senolytic effect) and decrease NF-κβ-mediated cytokine release to dampen the SASP (senomorphic effect); iii) acting at the tumor site to limit systemic side effects; iv) obviating the need for ADT. We are using fractionated EBRT and the androgen-sensitive, luciferase-expressing, orthotopic TRAMP-C1 prostate cancer mouse model and cultured cells to characterize the therapeutic actions of cinaciguat.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Cellular Senescence
  • Prostate Tumor
  • Tumor Recurrence
Read More about Irina Zabbarova
Hua Zhang

Hua Zhang

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

(412) 864-7742 zhangh18@upmc.edu Hillman Cancer Center Research Pavilion
5117 Centre Ave, Suite 2.42d
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

The main research focuses of my lab are:
1. establishing new immunocompetent mouse models for lung cancer and utilizing them to study the therapeutic efficacy and mechanisms of novel combination of targeted therapy with immunotherapy
2. identifying new therapeutic vulnerabilities to overcome drug resistance in lung cancer
3. characterizing the organ-specific tumor immune contexture to develop immunotherapeutic strategies.
4. targeted degradation of KRAS mutants using in vivo PROTAC system. 

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Antitumor Immunity
  • CDK7
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mouse Modeling
Read More about Hua Zhang
Amer Zureikat

Amer Zureikat

Program: Cancer Therapeutics

412-692-2852 zureikatah@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion, Suite 414
5150 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Amer H. Zureikat, MD, is chief of the Division of Gastrointestinal (GI) Surgical Oncology at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, co-director of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Pancreatic Cancer Program, and associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Zureikat specializes in cancers and diseases of the pancreas, stomach, liver, and duodenum, and practices state-of-the-art robotic surgery.

Read More about Amer Zureikat

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