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Seventeen new members join DF/HCC

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

Steven Atlas, MD (MGH)
Cancer Risk and Disparities
Research focus: The research focuses on quality improvement efforts to understand patterns of care for patients seen in primary care networks and to create new ways to manage these patients. Ongoing research focuses on using population-based methods to link patients and providers with new systems of care to deliver preventive services.

Curtis Cetrulo, MD (MGH)
Cancer Immunology
Research focus: The lab is investigating tolerance induction strategies for hand and face transplantation (vascularized composite tissue allografts or VCA) in the immunogenetically-defined MGH miniature swine model. These transplants can replace tissue defects following cancer or injury. Current research efforts are directed toward use of mixed hematopoietic chimerism to induce transplantation tolerance to VCA and toward exploring the immunologic mechanisms involved in tolerance and rejection of the skin component of the VCA.

Lee Gehrke, PhD (HMS)
Cancer Immunology, Gastrointestinal Malignancies
Research focus: The lab is interested in finding ways to prevent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections from developing into liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). The research is directed at activating the innate immune system, which is also linked to pathways that destroy cells, called apoptotic mechanisms.

Whitfield Growdon, MD (MGH)
Gynecologic Cancers, Translational Pharmacology and Early Therapeutic Trials
Research focus: The focus is translational research that seeks to define targets for novel cancer therapeutics. Working with an interdisciplinary team, the goal is to discover molecular signatures that identify sub-populations of patients that may benefit from specific therapies in gynecologic cancers. Recent investigations have focused on both rare cancers, such as vulvar cancer and carcinosarcomas, as well as more common GYN cancers including endometrial and ovarian.

Alejandro Gutierrez, MD (BCH)
Leukemia, Sarcoma
Research focus: Primary research interest lies in elucidating the molecular pathogenesis of chemoresistant human cancers, combining human cancer genomics with functional genetics and small molecule screens in the zebrafish model system. The approach leverages zebrafish models of two such treatment-resistant human cancers we have generated, high-risk T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and well-differentiated liposarcoma.

Alex Kentsis, MD, PhD (DFCI)
Leukemia
Research focus: Current work focuses on aberrant signaling and gene expression in high-risk myeloid leukemias and renal tumors. New discoveries linking receptor co-activation to aberrant autocrine signaling of acute myeloid leukemia cells have direct implications for overcoming resistance to targeted therapy. Working to determine the molecular mechanisms of genomic plasticity and adaptation to targeted therapy using functional investigation of human tumors and engineered animal models, with the long-term goal of developing rational combination therapy of high-risk pediatric cancers. The lab also works on developing proteomics approaches for the discovery of new diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets, with application to acute inflammatory diseases and tumors.

Galit Lahav, PhD (HMS)
Cancer Cell Biology, Cancer Imaging
Research focus: The lab studies how individual cells translate internal and external signals into decisions such as growth, death, movement or differentiation by quantitatively measuring the changes in level, activity, or localization of proteins in single cells at high temporal resolution and correlating these behaviors with specific cellular fates. By visualizing how dynamical behaviors vary between different cells, the team aims to tease out the reasons for varying behavior both in cell populations and in different cell types.

Charles Lin, PhD (MGH)
Cancer Imaging
Research focus: The research group seek to understand the in vivo behavior of immune, cancer, and stem cells in disease models and transplantation settings.

Jason Luke, MD (DFCI)
Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma, Translational Pharmacology and Early Therapeutic Trials
Research focus: Research activities focus on the development of translational therapeutic advances especially for the treatment of melanoma. The research is focused predominately on the development of novel molecular targeting strategies for investigating growth factors, oncogenic kinases and angiogenesis as well as combinations of these with immunotherapy.

Nathan McDannold, PhD (BWH)
Cancer Imaging, Neuro-Oncology
Research focus: The lab investigates therapeutic uses of ultrasound, primarily using it as a noninvasive tool for ablating tumors or for temporarily modifying vascular barriers to enhance the delivery of drugs. The team is particularly interested in the brain, and has been working for years on using focused ultrasound and microbubbles to disrupt the blood-brain barrier.

Kathryn Penney, ScD (BWH)
Cancer Epidemiology, Prostate Cancer
Research focus: The research centers on identifying risk factors and predictors of prostate cancer development and progression by identifying genes and genetic variants that can distinguish indolent from lethal prostate cancer at diagnosis, with a particular focus on combining different types of biological data, such as genetics, RNA and protein expression, to create a more comprehensive picture of the biology of prostate cancer incidence and progression. The lab also investigates the relationship between known prostate cancer risk variants with genome-wide expression levels from prostate cancer tissue.

Samara Reck-Peterson, PhD (HMS)
Cancer Cell Biology
Research focus: The lab studies fundamental aspects of microtubule dynamics and microtubule-based transport. By understanding the molecular mechanisms of these processes in wild-type cells, the ultimate goal is to better understand what goes wrong in disease states.

Jennifer Rider, ScD, MPH (HMS)
Cancer Epidemiology, Prostate Cancer
Research focus: Research interests involve using population-based studies of genetic, circulating, and tumor biomarkers to investigate the role of inflammation and infections in carcinogenesis. Collaborates extensively on prostate and penile tumor biomarker studies to better understand genetic and circulating biomarkers related to inflammation and prostate cancer outcomes.

Karen Sepucha, PhD (MGH)
Breast Cancer, Outcomes Research
Research focus: Research interests involve developing, evaluating and implementing tools to improve the quality of significant medical decisions with the goal being to ensure that all patients who face significant medical decisions are meaningfully engaged, well-informed, and receive treatments that match their goals. A large multi-institution research effort focuses on developing decision quality instruments across a range of decisions such as breast cancer surgery, breast reconstruction and systemic therapy and measuring patients’ knowledge, involvement in decisions, and the extent to which treatments reflect their goals.

Edward Stack, PhD (DFCI)
Gastrointestinal Malignancies, Prostate Cancer
Research focus: The research is centered on the molecular mechanisms that drive the progression of cancer, including: the heterogeneous nature of prostate tumor biology from both a transcriptome and expression vantage point, with a particular interest in the roles of metabolism in driving the cancer phenotype; the molecular events that assist in driving dysplasia's to esophageal adenocarcinomas; and the general transcriptional anomalies present in gastrointestinal tumors. The goal of the research is to develop biomarkers that will aid in diagnoses as well as guide potential therapeutic interventions.

Rudolph Tanzi, BS, PhD (MGH)
Neuro-Oncology
Research focus: The lab performs genome wide association studies to identify novel genes associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), including investigating the EphA6-mediated molecular mechanism linking cancer and AD. Current research involves investigating the molecular interaction between EphA6 and the pathophysiological cascade underlying AD. Future research will study whether overexpression of EphA6 halts brain tumor progression and metastasis in mice. The identification of molecular mechanisms linking cancer and AD may lead to novel therapeutic targets.

Kazuhiko Yamada, MD (MGH)
Cancer Immunology
Research focus: The lab’s work is directly related to successful organ transplantation, which is the only curative procedure for cancer affecting a single organ which has not yet metastasized.