12 New Members Join DF/HCC

July 27,  2017

Twelve individuals have recently joined DF/HCC. Learn more about these scientists and their research interests.

  • Sara Buhrlage, PhD,
    Sara Buhrlage, PhD (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)
    Cancer Cell Biology, Developmental Therapeutics

    I am a chemical biologist that applies my skills as a synthetic chemist to the investigation of novel cancer targets. The research focus of my lab is development and utilization of chemical tools to develop a complete understanding of the physiological and pathophysiological roles of deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs), which are a family of proteases that remove the post-translational modification of ubiquitin from substrate proteins as part of the tightly choreographed process of protein degradation. DUBs are an emerging class of drug targets with tremendous therapeutic potential resulting from their ability to remove degradative ubiquitin tags from oncogenic proteins, especially un-targetable classes of enzymes.

  • Brittany M. Charlton, ScD,
    Brittany M. Charlton, ScD (Boston Children's Hospital)
    Cancer Epidemiology, Cancer Risk and Disparities

    My epidemiologic research primarily focuses on reproductive health and cancer. One area of my work examines the development and prevention of sexual orientation-related disparities. For almost 20 years, the Institute of Medicine has warned of a potential elevated cancer risk among sexual minorities because known risk factors—nulliparity, obesity, smoking, alcohol use—are more common than among heterosexuals. However, national cancer registries do not collect sexual orientation, so there is no way to quantify the magnitude of this burden. With support from the NIH and American Cancer Society, I am currently using longitudinal cohort data to quantify cancer disparities and to gain a nuanced understanding of factors across the lifespan, which may confer different risk in various sexual orientation groups. A second area of my research investigates the health effects of using contraceptives.

  • Aedin Culhane, PhD,
    Aedin Culhane, PhD (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)
    Cancer Data Sciences, Kidney Cancer

    My research in bioinformatics and computational biology is focused on developing methods that leverage the growing public genomics resources from projects such as TCGA, ICGC, and other large-scale genomic projects. I develop methods for integration of genomics data including DNA, RNA, and proteomics data and have developed a bi-clustering method called iBBiG to analyze gene set enrichment analyses results across studies. I also led the GeneSigDB database in which we curated over 5,000 gene signatures of cancer and disease from the published literature, which can be used for pathway-based mining of cancer gene networks. I am a member of the biostatistician/bioinformatics core team for the DF/HCC Kidney Cancer SPORE. I also work on women's cancer and I'm a co-PI on a project to study the breast metastatic environment in ER+ breast cancer.

  • Senthil K Muthuswamy, PhD,

    Over the past 15 years, studies from my laboratory have led to the development of three-dimensional culture methods for modeling carcinoma and identifying cell polarity proteins as a new class of molecules regulating cancer biology. The 3D culture model we developed for breast epithelia has led to a new way of thinking influencing the investigation of the biology of cancer cells. In addition to understanding mechanisms of cell invasion, cell proliferation, and death in a 3D tissue-like context, the 3D culture method has impacted drug development and understanding drug resistance mechanisms. Studies from my laboratory have opened the field of cell polarity biology to cancer researchers and those interested in cell signaling, cell migration, metastasis, and stemness. Our recent pancreas 3D culture model defines new ways to generate ductal and acinar (exocrine) cells from pluripotent human stem cells. 

  • Ryan Nipp, MD, MPH,
    Ryan Nipp, MD, MPH (Massachusetts General Hospital)
    Cancer Care Delivery Research, Gastrointestinal Malignancies

    I am a gastrointestinal oncologist and health services researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. I completed medicine residency at Duke University and an oncology fellowship at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. My research focuses on optimizing the care delivered to patients with cancer. Specifically, my research platform consists of studies interfacing between palliative care, geriatric oncology, and health services research. My goal is to improve the quality of life and care for patients with cancer and their families. I am interested in developing models of healthcare delivery to improve patients’ quality of life, address their symptom burden, and promote patient-centered decision-making.

  • Lydia Pace, MD, MPH,
    Lydia Pace, MD, MPH (Brigham And Women's Hospital)
    Breast Cancer, Cancer Care Delivery Research

    I am interested in decision-making about breast cancer screening and genetic testing, both at a policy level and the level of the individual clinician and patient. I am also interested in breast cancer screening policies and early detection strategies in resource-limited settings and in using implementation science to inform effective and feasible strategies in such settings. Increasingly, I am working on the quality of breast cancer care in low- and middle-income countries. My clinical practice is in primary care internal medicine and urgent care at the Phyllis Jen Center for Primary Care at BWH. I precept BWH internal medicine residents and regularly give lectures about breast cancer screening and cancer screening more generally.

  • Jaymin M Patel, MD,
    Jaymin M Patel, MD (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center)
    Breast Cancer, Developmental Therapeutics

    I am interested in translational research to improve diagnostics and therapeutics for breast cancer patients. Overall, my academic interests include nanoparticle technology, genomic instability, tumor targeting, and personalized medicine. As with prior projects, I will strive to facilitate a bi-directional transfer of hypothesis-generating ideas between clinical and scientific leaders across the DF/HCC Breast Cancer Program. I currently serve as an investigator on a number of breast cancer-specific clinical trials. In addition, I am working with Dr. Senthil Muthuswamy’s (BIDMC) lab to establish a pipeline for organoid development for the purpose of personalized therapeutic screening and interrogation of resistance mechanisms. Also, I plan to collaborate with Dr. Gerburg Wulf's (BIDMC) lab to perform pre-clinical testing on a novel cell-penetrating antibody that targets DNA-repair deficient cells.

  • Shoshana M Rosenberg, ScD, MPH,
    Shoshana M Rosenberg, ScD, MPH (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)
    Breast Cancer, Cancer Care Delivery Research

    I am a cancer epidemiologist and health services researcher with an interest in the unique issues affecting young women with breast cancer. My research focuses on survivorship, quality of life, and treatment decision-making in this population. I am trained in both quantitative and qualitative research methods and design, conduct, and analyze a wide range of studies. My current projects include exploring why young breast cancer patients are increasingly choosing contralateral prophylactic mastectomy and understanding patterns of endocrine therapy non-initiation, non-adherence, and non-persistence in young women with breast cancer. Additionally, I am involved in designing and incorporating patient-reported outcome measures into therapeutic breast cancer clinical trials.

  • Helen A Shih, MD,

    I am interested in clinical and translational efforts to better define the role of radiation therapy in the management of brain tumors and other neurological conditions, ranging from benign to malignant, and both primary and metastatic diseases. Of particular interest to me is proton therapy, improving our understanding and use of this technology, and better understanding the effects of ionizing radiation on normal tissues - primarily the brain. In addition, I have an interest in the effects of drug addictions on the brain and how our understanding of this can promote new opportunities to effective therapies. 

  • Mingyang Song, MD, ScD,
    Mingyang Song, MD, ScD (Massachusetts General Hospital)
    Cancer Epidemiology, Gastrointestinal Malignancies

    My research focuses on the role of diet, lifestyle factors, and genetics in the development of colorectal neoplasia. In particular, I am interested in understanding how inflammation influences the course of colorectal cancer evolution and identifying nutritional factors that can be used to perturb this process for the purpose of cancer prevention and treatment. Much of my work is based on two large prospective cohort studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, using a variety of instruments, including dietary assessment, genetic testing, and biomarker measurement in plasma and tissue specimens. Recently, as growing evidence indicates a critical role of the gut microbes in human health and disease, particularly colorectal neoplasia, I am investigating how the gut microbiome interacts with host diet and genetics to affect energy balance, immune homeostasis, and cancer development.

  • Jerrold R Turner, MD, PhD,

    As an academic gastrointestinal surgical pathologist I have focused on making observations that alter management or understanding of disease. Among the most important of these observations, we defined a previously unrecognized form of tumor spread in colorectal cancer as well as the associated prognostic implications. This triggered a revision of the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging recommendations and surgical pathology standard of care. My other work has defined the relationships between active inflammation and dysplasia in inflammatory bowel disease, an issue which aligns most closely with my laboratory research which is focused on epithelial biology, including neoplasia, predominantly of the GI tract.

  • Paul A VanderLaan, MD, PhD,

    As the Director of Cytopathology as well as the Director of Thoracic Pathology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, my clinical and research interests lie at the intersection of cytopathology and pulmonary pathology in the setting of both neoplastic and non-neoplastic lung disease. My research in these areas broadly explores the utility of cytology and small biopsy specimens obtained via minimally invasive techniques for both diagnostic and ancillary testing in lung cancer. In collaboration with thoracic radiology, I have also studied radiologic-pathologic correlates as assessed on lung cancer resection specimens, specifically regarding lung cancer classification and tumor staging.