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Twenty-four new members join DF/HCC

Twenty-four individuals have recently joined DF/HCC. See below to learn more about these scientists and their research interests.


Tracy Balboni, MD, MPH (DFCI)
Head and Neck Cancer; Palliative Care

Research focus: palliative care, including the psychosocial aspects of advanced cancer and radiotherapy for palliation with a particular focus on the role of religion and spirituality in the experience of cancer including its impact on coping and end-of-life medical care and the medical setting for patient end-of-life outcomes.


Elisabeth Battinelli, MD, PhD (BWH)
Angiogenesis, Invasion, and Metastasis

Research focus: understanding the cellular and molecular basis by which platelets regulate angiogenesis. The specific aims of the lab are to explore how tumor cells can induce platelet alpha granule differential release and to explore how the angiogenic balance changes in megakaryocytes in the tumor environment.

Nancy Berliner, MD (BWH)
Cancer Genetics; Leukemia

Research focus: identifying roles for the inner nuclear envelope protein, the lamin B receptor (LBR), in regulating not only the morphologic maturation of the neutrophil nucleus, but also proliferative and functional responses that are critical to innate immunity.


Janice Brissette, PhD (MGH)
Cancer Cell Biology; Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma

Research focus: development and diseases of the skin with a particular focus on the control of epithelial morphogenesis and the understanding of how the skin creates and regenerates epithelial tissues, directs different cell types to develop and function as units, and determines cell population sizes and levels of cell growth.


Thomas Darrah, PhD (UMB)
Cancer Cell Biology

Research focus: analyzing anomalously high gadolinium (Gd) and other rare earth element (REE) concentrations found in the femoral head bones of patients exposed to chelated Gd, commonly used as a contrast agent for medical contrast imaging. Recent studies suggest that Gd chelates may break down in vivo and cause medical conditions such as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), acute kidney failure, and in some cases death (especially in renally compromised patients). The lab is evaluating the potential health risk to patients with increased rates of bone resorption (e.g. osteoporosis patients and menopausal, pregnant, and lactating women) who are exposed to Gd-based contrast agents.

Andrew Dudley, PhD (CHB)
Angiogenesis, Invasion, and Metastasis; Prostate Cancer

Research focus: examining the role of stromal cells (non tumor cells) during tumor growth; particularly, how inflammatory cells, endothelial cells and mesenchymal progenitor cells build new tumor blood vessels. The goals of the lab are to identify the origin of the endothelium during tumor progression and to understand how factors in the tumor microenvironment might reprogram the endothelium and how plasticity in the vasculature may lead to evasiveness to anti-angiogenic strategies.


Keith Flaherty, MD (MGH)
Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma; Translational Pharmacology and Early Therapeutic Trials

Research focus: understanding novel, molecularly targeted therapies in cancer that focus on the development of response and predictive biomarkers to define the mechanisms of action and resistance of novel therapies as well as to identify the optimal target population.

Suzanne Gaudet, PhD (DFCI)
Cancer Cell Biology

Research focus: investigating the cell death/survival decision induced by treating cancer cells with Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), a pro-inflammatory ligand, using a combination of experimental and computational approaches with the goal to understand how ligands exert their control over the behavior of human cells, and how the state of each cellís genetic make-up and biochemical state affects its response to these ligands.

Marcia Haigis, PhD (HMS)
Cancer Cell Biology

Research focus: understanding the role that mitochondria play in mammalian aging and disease, particularly to identify signals generated by mitochondria that contribute to aging and to identify those regulated by mammalian sirtuins, to determine molecular mechanisms for these signals, and  to understand how these pathways regulate biological functions that decline during normal aging.

Robyn Hannigan, PhD (UMB)
Cancer Cell Biology

Research focus: trace element chemistry with the biological sciences, specifically the relation between trace metals and biominerals such as bone and to the activation of proteins focusing on the quantification of metals in tissues and elucidating the relation between changes in metal distribution and the initiation of disease.


Christina Herold, MD (BIDMC)
Breast Cancer; Translational Pharmacology and Early Therapeutic Trials

Research focus: developing new therapeutic options for patients with breast cancer with emphasis on early phase clinical trials incorporating targeted therapies. To facilitate optimal use of these therapies, the lab is interested in designing trials that employ adaptive trial methodologies with validation of biomarker endpoints.

Curtis Huttenhower, PhD (HSPH)

Research focus: discovering useful biological knowledge in large collections of genomic data in order to to reconstruct detailed models of cellular behavior in response to changing environmental conditions, regulatory and metabolic regimes, and disease states. The goal of this research is to allow any new biomedical question to be answered by extracting information from the entire body of existing and novel experimental data, using data integration to allow results from basic research to be applied to genomic and personalized medicine (and vice versa).

Winston Kuo, DMSc, SM, DMD (HDS)
Angiogenesis, Invasion, and Metastasis; Head and Neck Cancer

Research focus: mining and analyzing oral cancer data for a panel of biomarkers that allow for identification of molecularly premalignant lesions as well as histologic dysplastic lesions that are more likely to progress to cancer. Such identification is of great value as early detection has the greatest impact on survival for oral cancer. Accordingly, gene expression profiling of microdissected keratinocytes from biopsies containing normal mucosal tissue and invasive HNSCC will be performed to define a set of genes with marked alteration in expression in the course of carcinogenic transformation. These potential markers are then subjected to a validation process to determine their potential utility as biomarkers for two distinct phases of cancer progression.

David Langenau, PhD (MGH)

Research focus: defining the kinetics of self-renewal in vivo and identifying modifying gene pathways in proliferation and self-renewal. In addition to imaging stem cells in established ERMS, confocal imaging has also been utilized to define tumor progression. Five distinct stages of tumor formation have been identified and the lab has used imaging methods to visualize tumor growth during therapeutic intervention and identify chemical suppressors of tumor formation in zebrafish RMS, including rapamycin and MAP kinase inhibitors. The labís work provides new platforms for imaging important processes in cancer progression including stem cell self-renewal, neovascularization, cell migration, and metastasis.


Jochen Lorch, MD (DFCI)
Head and Neck Cancer

Research focus: comparing the benefit of induction chemotherapy with TPF with PF in patients with locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the head and neck; data support the long term efficacy of TPF and sequential therapy in the management of appropriate patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer.

Sandra McAllister, PhD (BWH)
Angiogenesis, Invasion, and Metastasis; Breast Cancer

Research focus: identifying systemic factors that contribute to tumor progression and finding ways to interdict their function with the hope that such information will ultimately lead to new therapies to treat cancer patients.


Shuchi Pandya, MD (BIDMC)
Breast Cancer; Translational Pharmacology and Early Therapeutic Trials

Research focus: treating metastatic renal cell cancer (RCC) with sunitinib (SU), a multi-target receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor with primary anti-angiogenesis properties, a process that delays disease progression but does not result in durable complete responses, and establishing salvage therapy for patients who develop SU resistance.

William Pirl, MD, MPH (MGH)
Cancer Survivorship; Palliative Care

Research focus: identification and management of psychological and cancer-related symptoms and their influence on medical outcomes with particular interest in the association between depression and survival in patents with advanced non-small cell lung cancer and its underlying mechanisms, including physiological, behavioral, and differences in medical care.

Anthony Samir, MD (MGH)
Cancer Imaging; Prostate Cancer

Research focus: applying advanced imaging technologies to diagnose and treat cancer. Specific areas of interest include sonoelastography, contrast enhanced ultrasound, MRI, and tumor ablation.


David Steensma, MD (DFCI)
Cancer Genetics; Leukemia

Research focus: studying myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and related conditions including developmental therapeutics, as well as discovery of new somatic genetic mutations important in the pathobiology of this difficult and poorly-understood group of smoldering myeloid neoplasms. The lab is exploring novel drugs and drug combinations to try to improve patient outcomes and is collaborating with scientists to try to discover new pathways disturbed in MDS and related disorders, with the goal of finding pathways that can be exploited therapeutically.

Sara Tolaney, MD, MPH (DFCI)
Breast Cancer

Research focus: conducting the first study of the combination of ixabepilone with trastuzumab for the treatment of metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. Results suggest that the combination has an encouraging response rate as first- and subsequent- line therapy for metastatic breast cancer. Clinically significant neuropathy was the major toxicity, appearing to be cumulative. Based on these results, further evaluation of ixabepilone plus trastuzumab is warranted.


Raymond Wadlow, MD (MGH)
Gastrointestinal Malignancies

Research focus: using a mathematical approach to begin defining the complex molecular rules that govern the interactions between cancer cells and surrounding stromal fibroblasts during tumorigenesis by performing the first large-scale quantitative analysis of fibroblast effects on cancer cell proliferation across more than four hundred heterotypic cell line pairings. Findings suggest that quantitative approaches may be useful for identifying organizational principles that govern complex heterotypic cell-cell interactions in cancer and other contexts.

Matthew Warman, MD (HMS)
Cancer Cell Biology; Cancer Genetics

Research focus: employing biochemical, cellular, and model organism approaches to precisely delineate the roles of biologic pathways that affect the patterning, growth, and maintenance of the skeletal system in order to understand these pathways with the goal to improve human skeletal health. The ultimate goal is to provide truly personalized genetic medicine to every patient with skeletal disease in whom a genetic contribution is suspected.

Catherine Yan, PhD (BIDMC)
Cancer Genetics; Cancer Immunology

Research focus: developing novel cell based, molecular and biochemical experimental approaches to create a roadmap of genomic alterations that promote malignant transformation and adapting these experimental approaches to investigate how accumulated decline in genome stability control impacts on cellular and organismal aging and age-related disease.