Diane M. Simeone, M.D.
Dr. Simeone is a clinician scientist with an academic focus on neoplastic diseases of the pancreas. Her laboratory team investigates the molecular events important
in the development and progression of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, with an extension of these findings into new clinical trials to improve the lives of pancreatic
cancer patients. Her group is also focused on developing new tools for the early detection of pancreatic cancer in high risk, individuals.
Lazar J. Greenfield Professor of Surgery and Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Director of the Translational Oncology Program and Pancreatic Cancer Center
Lawrence An, M.D.
Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR) is an interdisciplinary team of behavioral scientists, health educators, computer engineers, and graphic designers that has developed over 100 computer tailored
interventions. These interventions have used an array of media channels and technologies in a variety of settings among various target populations to improve care of
the cancer patient.
Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
Director, Center for Health Communications Research /Scientific Director
Cancer Survivorship Program/Associate Professor
Valerie P. Castle-Opipairi, M.D.
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.
Chair, Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
Ravitz Foundation Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
Professor of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
Mark S. Cohen, M.D.
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.
Associate Professor of Surgery
Director of Endocrine Surgery Research
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.
Howard Crawford, Ph.D.
Dr. Crawford's research is dedicated to dissecting the signal transduction pathways that lead directly to pancreatic tumor formation and progression in mouse models
of pancreatic cancer. By examining the chronic inflammation of the pancreas, we have identified shared pathways that control the formation of the aberrant epithelial
structures in both inflamed and cancerous conditions, suggesting novel molecular targets for treatment of both conditions.
Professor, Department of Physiology and Internal Medicine
Director, Pancreas Research Program and Mouse Models of Pancreatic Disease Core
Mark L. Day, PhD.
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.
Professor of Urology, Department of Urology and the Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Colin Duckett, PhD.
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.
Director of Program Development, North Campus Research Complex
Professor, Departments of Pathology and Internal Medicine
Co-Director, Cancer Cell Biology Program
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.
Amanda L. Garner, Ph.D.
Dr. Garner's lab investigates the targeting of translational control for the treatment of cancer. Her group is also interested in the design and development of
conceptually new, biomedically-relevant high-throughput screening assays for the discovery of preclinical candidates for protein-protein and RNA-protein interactions
Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
College of Pharmacy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Jacqueline Jeruss, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Jeruss' clinical and basic research interests are focused on novel therapeutics for aggressive breast cancer subtypes, new approaches to manage cancer metastasis,
incorporation of fertility preservation into the care of young patients with cancer, and surgical ethics. She is a member of several professional societies, has
published numerous manuscripts and book chapters, and has also received many awards for teaching and research.
Associate Professor, Division of Surgical Oncology
Evan Keller, D.V.M., Ph.D.
The Keller laboratory is focused on the biology of cancer metastasis. We explore for genes that regulate metastasis and the interaction between the bone
microenvironment and cancer cells. We make a great endeavor to perform translational studies to enable movement of research findings into clinics. We accomplish
our research through a combination of molecular, cellular and animal studies and human clinical trials. Specific areas include: (1) Single cell analysis of
circulating and disseminated tumor cells; (2) Evaluation of MET, Wnts, BMP pathways in metastasis and (3) Defining the role of exosomes and physical forces on
educating the tumor microenvironment. We accomplish our research through a combination of molecular, cellular, animal and human clinical trial studies.
Professor of Urology and Pathology
Joerg Lahann, Ph.D.
Dr. Lahann's research group develops novel materials and technologies for cancer treatment and early diagnosis. The Lahann lab currently works on tiny
nano-containers for targeted delivery of combination therapies to the tumor site.
Director, Biointerfaces Institute
Professor of Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering and Macromolecular Engineering
Elizabeth R. Lawlor, M.D., Ph.D.
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.
Russell G. Adderley Professor of Pediatric Oncology
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
Mats Ljungman, PhD.
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.
Professor, Radiation Oncology
Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health
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.
Karen McLean, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Karen McLean received her MD and PhD from the University of Michigan, with dissertation work in cancer biology. She performs ovarian cancer translational
research focusing on understanding the role of the tumor microenvironment, with the goal of identifying new treatment targets for women with this disease.
Assistant Professor of Gynecologic Oncology
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Sunitha Nagrath, PhD.
Dr. Nagrath's lab is developing microfluidic devices for isolating and studying cancer cells as related to metastasis.
Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering
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.
Nouri Neamati, PhD.
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.
Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry
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, M.D.
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.
Assistant Professor of Pediatric Surgery, Edith Briskin Emerging Scholar
A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute
CS Mott Children's Hospital
Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska, Ph.D.
Dr. Nikolovska-Coleska's lab focuses on chemical genomics, discovery and application of active chemical compounds for the interrogation of biological systems and
improvement of human health. Her research is primarily focused on understanding the protein-protein interactions (PPIs) involved in controlling the programmed cell
death and regulating epigenetic mechanisms. Dr. Nikolovska-Coleska's research aims on development of small molecule inhibitors targeting PPIs as potential cancer
therapeutics by using interdisciplinary approach combining biophysical and biochemical methods, structural biology, medicinal chemistry and functional biology.
Associate Professor, Department of Pathology
Director, Molecular and Cellular Pathology Graduate Program
Phillip Palmbos, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Palmbos is a physician-scientist and medical oncologist with a clinical practice in the management of genitourinary malignancies. His laboratory research is
focused on understanding the molecular events which promote bladder cancer formation and metastasis. He is interested in the development of improved preclinical
models and specifically understanding the contribution of the oncogene- ATDC to bladder cancer formation.
Clinical Lecturer, Hematology & Oncology, Internal Medicine
Indika Rajapakse, Ph.D.
Dr. Rajapakse's research is on the structure and function of networks that shape the dynamics of genome organization in the interphase nucleus in three dimensional
space and time. I apply mathematical and statistical approaches derived from theory of networks, systems and control theory, and multivariate statistics.
Assistant Professor, Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, Department of Mathematics, Biological Network Cluster
Judy Sebolt-Leopold, Ph.D.
Dr. Leopold's research is focused on the identification and optimization of molecular targeted approaches to block KRAS mediated oncogenic signaling.
Leveraging the drug discovery and cancer biology expertise of her research team, her research interests include the design of improved combination treatment
strategies tailored to the individual molecular signatures of pancreatic and colorectal cancers.
Research Associate Professor, Department of Radiology
Lonnie Shea, Ph.D.
The Shea Lab sits at the intersection of biomaterials, drug and gene delivery, and systems biology that are applied to molecular dissect normal and abnormal tissue
growth. His cancer-related projects include ovarian follicle maturation for treating chemotherapy-induced infertility, scaffolds to capture metastatic cells for early
detection, and a systems biology analysis of cell differentiation, and mechanisms of drug action and resistance.
William and Valerie Hall Chair, Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Duxin Sun, Ph.D.
Dr. Sun is the William I. Higuchi Collegiate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the U-M College of Pharmacy, and the Director of the U-M Pharmacokinetics Core.
His laboratory's research focuses on drug discovery and nanomedicine for cancer stem cell therapeutics and tumor imaging.
William I. Higuchi Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy
Shaomeng Wang, Ph.D.
Dr. Wang has built a comprehensive and integrated drug discovery program to discover and develop novel small-molecule therapeutics for human cancers and has advanced
four novel anticancer drugs into Phase I/II clinical development and several additional compounds into advanced preclinical development.
Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor in Medicine
Professor of Internal Medicine, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Chemistry
Director, Cancer Drug Discovery Program, Co-Director, Molecular Therapeutics Program
Max S. Wicha, M.D.
As founding director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Max S. Wicha, M.D. 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.
Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
Distinguished Professor of Oncology
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.
Vaibhav Sahai, M.D., M.S.
Dr. Sahai is a physician-scientist and medical oncologist with a clinical practice in the management of pancreaticobiliary malignancies. His translational research
is focused on experimental therapeutics in pancreatic and biliary ductal carcinomas via a molecular-based approach with the aim to perform translational and clinical
trial research utilizing biomarker candidates, including circulating tumor cells, to predict early response and survival to therapy.
Assistant Professor, Hematology & Oncology, Internal Medicine