Diane M. Simeone, M.D.

Diane M. Simeone, M.D.
Associate Professor in the Section of General Surgery, Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Associate Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Director of the University of Michigan Translational Oncology Program (TOP)

Dr. Simeone received her bachelor's degree from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and a medical degree from Duke University Medical School in Durham, North Carolina. She completed her General Surgery residency training in 1995 at the University of Michigan Medical Center. She joined the faculty at the University of Michigan Medical Center in 1995. Dr. Simeone's clinical interests are in the area of gastrointestinal oncology. She has a special interest in the surgical treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, and is the Surgical Director of the Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Clinic. Dr. Simeone is the principal director of a research laboratory that is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her basic science laboratory investigates mechanisms of pancreatic growth regulation and molecular events important in the development and progression of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. She is also an associate member of the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN), an NCI-funded initiative to identify and validate early detection biomarkers for the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Simeone Lab         Publicationsgoing to a new website


Valerie P. Castle, M.D.

Valerie P. Castle, M.D.
Chair, Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
Ravitz Foundation Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
Professor of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

Dr. Castle's lab focuses on the mechanisms underlying apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells. She is specifically interested in defining the mechanisms by which neuroblastoma cells become resistant to chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Biographygoing to a new website          Publicationsgoing to a new website


Mark S. Cohen, M.D.

Mark S. Cohen, M.D.
Associate Professor of Surgery
Director of Endocrine Surgery Research

Dr. Cohen is currently Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of Endocrine Surgery Research. He received his medical degree in 1998 from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completed his general surgery residency as well as a NIH sponsored fellowship in endocrine and oncologic surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Before coming to the University of Michigan in 2012, he was Associate Professor of Surgery and Pharmacology and Vice- Chair for Research in the Department of Surgery at the University of Kansas.

His clinical interests include endocrine surgery specifically thyroid surgery for benign and malignant disease, minimally invasive parathyroid surgery and adrenalectomy, as well as surgery for advanced melanomas including hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion. He is Boarded by the American Board of Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

In addition to his clinical interests, Dr. Cohen has an active basic science and translational research laboratory on the NCRC campus focused on translational targeted cancer-drug development and drug delivery systems in thyroid cancer, head and neck squamous cell cancer, melanoma and breast cancer. Specifically his research includes development of a patented nanocarrier based drug-delivery platform which improves cancer drug delivery to tumors and their draining lymph nodes for enhanced efficacy while decreasing the systemic toxicity of the drugs. Additionally his lab is translating novel natural product with anolides and novel c-terminal HSP-90 inhibitors into improved anti-cancer drugs for future clinical trials in thyroid cancer, head and neck squamous cell cancer, breast cancer, melanoma and adrenal cancer. His research funding includes the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the National Institute of Health.

Biographygoing to a new website


Mark L. Day, PhD

Mark L. Day, PhD.
Professor of Urology, Department of Urology and the Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Day is a Professor of Urology and a member of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology and the Translational Oncology Program at the University of Michigan. Dr. Day received his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Washington University School of Medicine in 1992 where he remained to join the faculty in the Department of Surgery. In 1995 he joined the University of Michigan to continue his research on the molecular and cellular basis of GU tumorigenesis. His current research focuses on the tumor microenvironment and the translation of discoveries into the development of new therapeutic approaches to treat GU cancers. Dr. Day has been the PI of numerous sponsored projects from the NIH, the Department of Defense, American Cancer Society and numerous private foundations. His leadership role in mentoring urology research trainees at all levels extends back to 1992 and includes the training of PhD students, medical students, post-doctoral fellows, Urology residents and international scholars. Dr. Day has also served advisory roles on multiple NIH, DOD, NSF, state and international scientific review panels.

Mark Day Research Laboratorygoing to a new website          Publicationsgoing to a new website


Colin Duckett, Ph.D

Colin Duckett, PhD.
Director of Program Development, North Campus Research Complex
Professor, Departments of Pathology and Internal Medicine

Dr. Duckett's laboratory is interested in studying how cells respond to internal and external cues, for example by undergoing a programmed form of cell death known as apoptosis, by modulating gene expression, or through the induction of proliferation. In normal cells these pathways are very tightly controlled, but one or more are deregulated in virtually all human diseases. Our specific interests are the study of a group of mammalian proteins called IAPs (Inhibitors of Apoptosis) which have collectively been shown to participate not only in apoptosis, but in intracellular signaling leading to transcriptional changes, as well as cellular proliferation and, most recently in copper homeostasis. Much of his current research is focused on the role of IAP proteins in cancer, especially prostate and breast cancer, with a particular emphasis on the potential of IAP antagonists as therapeutic agents, and additionally his lab is examining the role of specific IAPs in homeostatic regulation of lymphoid cells.

Related to their work on IAPs, the Duckett lab is also interested in studying the signaling pathways employed by the cell surface receptor, CD30, which is highly overexpressed in cells of Hodgkin's Disease origin, as well as certain non-Hodgkin's lymphomas including anaplastic large cell lymphoma. CD30 is an attractive target for these classes of lymphoma, because its expression is normally highly restricted in the body. Dr. Duckett is very interested in understanding the cellular effects of CD30-mediated signaling, especially as these signals are transduced through certain members of the IAP family, and his lab is most interested in examining the potential for this pathway to be exploited for therapeutic goals.

Biographygoing to a new website         Duckett Labgoing to a new website         Publicationsgoing to a new website


Elizabeth R. Lawlor, MD, PhD.

Elizabeth R. Lawlor, M.D., PhD.
Associate Professor, Department of Pathology
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases

Dr. Lawlor's research focuses on studies of Ewing sarcoma, a very aggressive bone and soft tissue tumor that primarily affects children, adolescents and young adults. She is pursuing studies with stem cells in order to understand how the EWS-FLI1 oncogene can turn normal stem cells into Ewing sarcoma cells. In addition, her lab studies the contribution of epigenetic deregulation to the pathogenesis of cancer. Specifically, they are elucidating the contribution of polycomb gene deregulation in the origin and progression of Ewing sarcoma and determining how altered expression of the polycomb protein BMI-1 affects response to therapeutic agents. By evaluating the similarities and differences between normal stem cell development and cancer, the Lawlor lab is gaining insights into both the origins of pediatric sarcomas and the biology of cancer stem cells.

Biographygoing to a new website          Publicationsgoing to a new website         Lawlor Labgoing to a new website


Mats Ljungman, PhD.

Mats Ljungman, PhD.
Professor, Radiation Oncology
Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health

Dr. Ljungman earned a Ph.D. degree from Stockholm University and performed postdoctoral research at Stanford University before starting as an Assistant Professor and advancing to Full Professor at the Department of Radiation Oncology and Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan.

The Ljungman lab has developed a suite of techniques aimed at obtaining a very detailed picture of many aspects of transcription and its regulation not available with other current techniques. These new techniques are based on the metabolic labeling of nascent RNA using bromouridine (Bru) followed by specific isolation of Bru-containing RNA and deep sequencing. The Bru-seq technology platform allows for the genome-wide assessment of the synthesis and stability of RNA, splicing kinetics, transcription elongation rates and the mapping of transcription start sites and enhancer elements. Using the Bru-seq platform, the Ljungman lab is in collaboration with Dr. Simeone's lab, exploring gene expression signatures in primary pancreatic tumor cell lines and together with Drs. Neamati's, Duckett's, Lawlor's and Newman's lab, exploring how these gene signatures correlate to drug sensitivity and signal transduction pathways. Bru-seq is also used to investigate the effects of radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs on gene expression in cancer cells and normal cells and to explore basic questions about the mechanisms of splicing and transcription elongation. As part of the ENCODE consortium the Ljungman lab contribute to the study of epigenetic regulation of gene expression. The Ljungman lab has collaborators in 10 different countries using the Bru-seq techniques.

In collaboration with the Simeone lab, the Ljungman lab studies the molecular functions of the newly identified oncogenic protein ATDC and its role in the DNA damage response. ATDC is a potential therapeutic target in pancreatic, bladder and potentially other cancers and efforts are underway, in collaboration with Dr. Neamati's lab, to develop small molecule inhibitors of ATDC as to be tested in the clinic trials as anti-tumor drugs.

The Ljungman labgoing to a new website          Publicationsgoing to a new website


Sunitha Nagrath, Ph.D.

Sunitha Nagrath, PhD.
Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

Dr. Nagrath's lab is developing microfluidic devices for isolating and studying cancer cells as related to metastasis.

Metastasis occurs when cells disseminate from the primary tumor site and travel through the body's vasculature, then exit the vessels into distant tissues, adapt to the microenviroment and proliferate into new tumors.

She is using microfluidic devices to study cell migration, specifically how cancer cells enter and exit the vasculature, detecting circulating cancer cells in the blood, and studying the microenvironmental cues needed to sustain and grow tumor metastases.

Microfluidic devices allow for studying individual cell behavior, capturing rare cells, such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs), and sustaining cell cultures. Microfluidics are being created to mimic in vivo environments and will become more widely used in biology as the devices become more automated for general use.

Nagrath Lab going to a new website          Publicationsgoing to a new website


Nouri Neamati, PhD

Nouri Neamati, PhD.
Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Dr. Neamati's lab uses computational chemistry to match chemical compounds to biological processes in an effort to design novel drugs and therapeutics. Focusing on small-molecule design, Neamati's research aims to find compounds that will fit into active sites in proteins and enzymes to inhibit their expression.

A small-molecule drug works by binding to a target, usually a specialized protein in a disease cell. Before computational chemistry technology was available, researchers had to design or test a compound derived from a natural product, inject it into mice or patients, and then wait to observe the results. This process was slow, expensive and comparatively ineffective. Now, while in vitro testing saves both time and money, sifting through a library of some 10 million compounds still presents a daunting time-consuming drug development process.

Neamati's computational platform allows him to pursue, through a rational selection process that predicts which compounds are likely to inhibit a particular protein, some fifty-thousand compounds to move to the next step in drug discovery. Then, using mathematical and statistical analysis to cluster these compounds into families, Neamati can test one compound from each family under the assumption that they embody properties of other members of the family. Once a compound of interest is identified, he can examine the whole family of compounds to find the optimal match for a specific target.

Another approach to drug design used in the Neamati lab is based on the structure of the target protein. Neamati uses technology that can design a compound that fits nicely on the active site of a protein, like a lock and key. Using the structural knowledge already available on vast numbers of existing drugs and targets, Neamati proceeds by either building a compound based on a known drug or a compound based on the target.

Neamati's work primarily focuses on cancer and HIV. He currently has compounds at various stages of development - from theoretical to in vitro to in vivo. Some of these compounds have been shown to work in experimental mouse disease models while exhibiting no toxicity. Collaborating with colleagues at the TOP, Neamati aims to take these promising therapeutics into phase 1 clinical trials.


Erika Newman, MD

Erika Newman, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatric Surgery, Edith Briskin Emerging Scholar
A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute
CS Mott Children's Hospital

Dr. Newman is an Assistant Professor in the Section of Pediatric Surgery. She completed undergraduate work and medical school at Georgetown University in 2001. After medical school, she completed General Surgery training at The University of Michigan and Fellowship training at The University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. Dr. Newman's practice includes all areas of general pediatric surgery and pediatric diseases of the neck, chest, and abdomen. Her clinical areas of specific interest are pediatric surgical oncology including neuroblastoma, Wilm's tumor, and soft tissue sarcoma. Dr. Newman is also interested in surgical diseases of the biliary tract including liver tumors and biliary atresia. Dr. Newman is certified by the American Board of Surgery and has an active research laboratory studying cancer stem cell biology and the developmental pathways of neuroblastoma.

Biographygoing to a new website          Publicationsgoing to a new website


Max Wicha, M.D.

Max S. Wicha, M.D.
Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
Director, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Distinguished Professor of Oncology

As founding director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Max S. Wicha, M.D., is responsible for coordinating all cancer activities related to research and patient care.

Dr. Wicha also serves as the distinguished professor of oncology, professor of internal medicine and is nationally known for his research in the field of breast oncology, particularly the study of how breast cancer cells grow and metastasize. His lab was part of the team that first discovered stem cells in breast cancer, the first described in any human solid tumor.

Since then, Dr. Wicha has become one of the leading experts on cancer stem cells, with his continued work on breast cancer stem cells. He has also led efforts within the UMCCC to expand these findings into other tumor types. U-M researchers were first to discover stem cells in pancreatic and head and neck cancers and are focusing on cancer stem cells in virtually every cancer type, including colon, lung and thyroid tumors.

Dr. Wicha is also active as a clinician, specializing in the treatment of breast cancer patients. He has served as chairman of the board of the Association of American Cancer Institutes and as past chairman for the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Center Support Review Committee.

Dr. Wicha joined the University of Michigan Medical Center in 1980. From 1984 to 1993, he served as chief in the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. Wicha received his medical degree from Stanford University and trained in internal medicine at the University of Chicago. He then went on to the National Cancer Institute, where he trained in clinical oncology and cancer biology.

Wicha Labgoing to a new website          Publicationsgoing to a new website


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updated 06.03.2014

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