THE SCHOLARS

By Discipline

Cancer Biology

Cancer biology focuses on the mechanisms that underlie fundamental processes such as cell growth, the transformation of normal cells to cancer cells, and the spread, or metastasis, of cancer cells.

DR. PAMELA KREEGER

UW Department of Biomedical Engineering

OVARIAN CANCER


In order to stop the spread of the tumors throughout the body, Dr. Kreeger's research seeks to understand how tumor cells detach from a tumor to initiate metastasis. In particular, her research will focus on why some cells will detach as a cluster rather than as individual cells – a choice that gives them a survival advantage against both natural defenses and chemotherapy.


Cancer Genomics

Cancer is a disease of gene mutation. Understanding these mutations that drive cancer leads to a better awareness of how cancer arises and spreads to distant organs.

DR. JOHN DENU

UW Department of Biomolecular Chemistry

PROSTATE CANCER


Dr. Denu’s research program centers on targeting DNA as a strategy to kill cancer cells. Oncogenic protein NSD2 has recently emerged as a therapeutic target, however no effective inhibitors exist because of poor molecular understanding. The goal of Dr. Denu's research is to determine the molecular Achilles heel of NSD2, paving the way for NSD2 inhibitors to treat prostate and other cancers.


DR. MARK BURKARD

UW Department of Medicine

BREAST CANCER


Dr. Mark Burkard is part of the UWCCC Precision Medicine Molecular Tumor Board where clinicians, pathologists and scientists work collaboratively to recommend patient-specific targeted therapies. This collaborative group of experts from around the state serves as a resource to evaluate the meaning and context of genomic information about a patient’s tumor in order to recommend better treatment that will positively impact survival rates.


Cancer Imaging

Detecting cancer at its earliest stages is fundamental for early treatment and increasing cure rates.

DR. EDWARD JACKSON

UW Department of Medical Physics


Dr. Jackson collaborated with Drs. Matt Witek, Tabby Kennedy and Greg Avey to more precisely image head and neck cancers to improve future treatment approaches in complex cases. UW is one of the few sites in the United States to have access to a combined PET/MRI scanner. This device gives researchers and physicians access to incredibly high resolution images of the tumor, while simultaneously providing metabolic and cellular level data. Dr. Jackson and team have investigated ways to use this device to improve tumor targeting with radiotherapy and also ways to use this information to decrease treatment toxicity.


JACOB JOHNSON

Student Scholar - Dr. Scott Reeder's Lab

LIVER CANCER


Jacob's research focuses on improving the value of MRI with deep learning as applied to screening for hepatocellular carcinoma. This work will help develop noninvasive imaging methods that improve the care of patients.


DR. HAU LE

UW Department of Surgery

LUNG CANCER | PEDIATRIC CANCER


In collaboration with Drs. J. Leon Shohet, Ha Nguyen, Mario Otto and Christian Captini, Dr. Le's research brings together a team of engineers, oncologists, and a surgeon to design and build an innovative cold atmospheric plasma device that can kill cancer cells without harming normal surrounding tissue. The device can be used in the operating room to destroy cancer cells left behind during surgery or to extend surgery to patients who have cancer but are traditionally deemed inoperable.


DR. JESSICA MILLER

UW Department of Human Oncology

LIVER CANCER | PANCREATIC CANCER


Dr. Miller's research specializes in using modern CT Scan imaging to improve the precision of radiation therapy delivery to tumors. This new imaging has the capability to perform dual-energy CT (DECT), which has the potential to improve tumor visualization in challenging anatomical sites like the pancreas and liver. Dr. Miller's goal is that through dedicated DECT research, her team can improve patient imaging and ultimately help save patient lives.


Drug Design

Finding new treatments based on biological targets via algorithms, large amounts of data and technologies significantly improves the effectiveness of new and existing drugs.

Immunooncology

Harnessing the body’s own defenses to recognize cancer cells and destroy them.

DR. DUSTIN DEMING

UW Department of Medicine

COLORECTAL CANCER


Dr. Deming's research focuses on combining DNA targeting and immunotherapy in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Currently immunotherapeutics are only beneficial for a small subset of patients with colorectal cancer who have deficiencies in DNA mismatch repair. Dr. Deming's lab has recently generated data indicating the potential to enhance the immune response using precision medicine-based therapies. His team will now utilize murine and patient-derived spheroid cultures to screen targeted therapies for their potential to enhance the immune response to immune checkpoint blockade.


DR. XIAOFEI ZHANG

UW Department of Pathology

PANCREATIC CANCER


Dr. Zhang's work focuses on harnessing the immune system to treat pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth deadliest cancer in US, but the second deadliest cancer in Wisconsin. It is one of the hardest-to-treat cancer because of its dense “scar-like” stroma which prevent treatment and immune surveillance. Dr. Zhang's research focuses on finding a way to break down the storma and make pancreatic cancer cells targetable by immunotherapy. If it works, this strategy will provide guidance to design more effective combinational therapy strategy to benefit pancreatic cancer patients in Wisconsin and all over the world.


NanoMedicine

Researchers at UW are designing new medicines that home in on your cancer and deliver specific treatments leading to decreased side effects and increase cure rates.

Population Health

A customizable approach that allows researchers and healthcare professionals to connect practice to policy through non-traditional partnerships among different sectors of the healthcare community.

HASAN NADEEM

Student Scholar - Dr. Shaneda Warren Anderson's Lab

BREAST CANCER


Hasan's work investigates why breast cancer incidence, mortality, and survival differ across race/ethnicity, geography, and socioeconomic status. This research aims to create a more equitable treatment paradigm and reduce disparities within breast cancer care.


Nicholas Schreiter

Student Scholar - Dr. Sharon Weber's Lab

LIVER CANCER | PANCREATIC CANCER


The Surgical Coordinated Transition of Care program is a service that helps bridge cancer surgical patient care from the time of discharge until first follow-up. Nicholas's project focuses on the efficacy/cost effectiveness of this program and assessing common causes of poor outcomes among these patients.


TAYLOR STEWART

Student Scholar - Dr. Amye Tevaarwerk's lab

BREAST CANCER


With a growing cancer survivor population, the survivorship journey requires improved communication between oncology and primary care. Taylor Stewart's work will re-engineer Survivorship Care Plans to address primary care information needs to optimize care coordination and thereby improve patient outcomes.


Jose Bien Rafaelo Hernandez

Student Scholar - Dr. Peggy Kim's Lab


Jose's research will focus on the role of patient education in addressing barriers to cancer pain management.


Precision Medicine

Although we often define cancer by the organ in which it arises, there are over 100 types of unique cancers. Research at UW propels our understanding of your individual tumor so we can personalize your therapy.

DR. DAVID BEEBE

UW Department of Biomedical Engineering

HEAD & NECK CANCER


Dr. Beebe's work includes the development of 3D in vitro models that can recapitulate in vivo geometry and interactions present in the lymphatic system in head and neck cancer and allow for improved study of HNC metastasis via the lymphatics. Specifically, his research expands his lab's patient-derived lymphatic vessel model for studying lymphatic vessel interactions with HNCCs and the tumor microenvironment to evaluate its potential for informing personalized therapy.


DR. JOSH COON

UW Department of Chemistry


Dr. Coon develops cutting-edge chemical instrumentation to measure proteins in human cells and tissues. In collaboration with Professor Mark Burkard, Dr. Coon's lab will investigate chromosome instability (CIN)-a common feature of diverse cancers-to identify protein changes at the cellular level that regulate chromosomes. This information will identify the biomarkers needed to better target therapies.


DR. RONG HU

UW Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

HEAD & NECK CANCER


Dr. Hu's research focuses on Tissue microarrays (TMA) which are powerful tools used to study cancer biomarkers for cancer diagnosis, prognosis and treatment prediction. Currently, she's building multiple head and neck cancer TMAs from different anatomic sites to support UW head and neck cancer research.


DR. NOELLE LOCONTE

UW Department of Medicine

COLON CANCER | LIVER CANCER | PANCREATIC CANCER


Dr. LoConte's works to increase efforts in reducing high risk alcohol use, improving HPV vaccination rates and increase recommended cancer screening tests across Wisconsin.


DR. KRISTINA MATKOWSKYJ

UW Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Dr. Matkowskyj focuses on building upon the existing infrastructure within the Translational Science BioCore (TSB) to optimize patient consenting, increase tissue donation to the BioBank, expedite the creation of research resources (i.e., tissue microarrays) and improve the utilization of biospecimens by our UW Carbone Cancer Center investigators. Her work will lead to improvement in cancer patient health.


DR. BETH WEAVER

UW Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology

BREAST CANCER


Dr. Weaver's research aims to identify a biomarker to predict which patients will benefit from treatment with the commonly used chemotherapy drug paclitaxel (TaxolTM). Such a biomarker could assist in identifying the optimal therapy for individual patients.


DR. MELISSA SKALA

UW Department of Biomedical Engineering

BREAST CANCER | COLORECTAL CANCER | HEAD & NECK CANCER | PANCREATIC CANCER


Dr. Skala aims to develop technologies that can customize immunotherapies for each patient, so that more breast cancer patients can achieve robust, long-lasting remissions. Her work has established new optical imaging technologies that can predict breast cancer response to chemotherapy and targeted therapies and looks to further develop optical imaging technologies to assess response to immunotherapies in patient samples.


DR. SHIGEKI MIYAMOTO

UW Department of Oncology

BLOOD CANCER


Dr. Miyamotos research focuses on identifying novel biomarkers to predict and treat aggressive forms of multiple myeloma (MM). In conjunction with Drs. Lingjun Li and Natalie Callander, this collaborative research aims to develop a drug that will target a drug resistant factor in order to offer effective therapies to MM patients.


DR. SUSAN PITT

UW Department of Surgery

THYROID CANCER


Dr. Pitt's work focuses on improving treatment strategies for thyroid cancer. Her work focuses on why surgeons and patients choose extensive treatment that can have long-term consequences for low-risk thyroid cancer. Dr. Pitt's study will help adapt a decision-support intervention used in other cancer patients for use in low-risk thyroid cancer in order to give patients the best treatment options.


Radiation Therapy

Researchers at UW have pioneered advances in the delivery of radiation precisely to the tumor and not normal tissue.

DR. BETHANY ANDERSON

UW Department of Human Oncology

BREAST CANCER


Radiation therapy can cause fibrosis (scar tissue) to form and reduce the blood supply of a treated area, which may increase the risk for surgical complications and a worse long-term cosmetic outcome. Dr. Anderson works with colleagues in the plastic surgery department to perform a clinical study using oral medicines given during and after radiation therapy showing promise in reducing fibrosis. Her research also focuses on studying biomarkers for scar tissue formation.


DR. BRYAN BEDNARZ

UW Department of Medical Physics


Dr. Bednarz researches the impact of radiation emitted from radioactive drugs on tumor cells and their surroundings.


DR. STEVEN HOWARD

UW Department of Human Oncology

BRAIN CANCER


Dr. Howard's research focuses on how cancers develop therapy resistance and developing strategies to reverse resistance.


DR. JENNIFER SMILOWITZ

UW Department of Human Oncology


Dr. Smilowitz performs cutting edge research on next generation radiation treatment machines to further improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients.


IAN MARSH

Student Scholar - Dr. Bryan Bednarz's Lab


Marsh works in the laboratory of Dr. Bryan Bednarz studying how external beam radiation can be combined with molecular targeted radionuclides to advance cancer treatment in primary and metastatic tumors.


DR. ZACHARY MORRIS

UW Department of Human Oncology

BREAST CANCER | COLON CANCER


Dr. Morris investigates a new approach to cancer treatment, in which radiation will be delivered to a single tumor site and then injected into that site with agents that stimulate the immune system to recognize and kill tumor cells. Preliminary data suggests that this combined treatment may act like an anti-cancer vaccine, resulting in both a local and systemic anti-tumor response. This approach may improve the response to existing cancer immunotherapies and is therefore potentially relevant to the treatment of nearly any type of cancer.


Targeted Therapies

Understanding what proteins drive cancer is critical and such advances will lead to cures.

DR. PETER LEWIS

UW Department of Biomolecular Chemistry

HEAD & NECK CANCER


High-grad pediatric gliomas are among the leading causes of cancer death in children and Dr. Lewis' research points to aberrant chromosome structure as a previously unsuspected driver of these intractable tumors. The goal of his research is to illuminate the molecular mechanisms that underlie Histone H3 mutations in order to advance the exploration of therapeutic avenues.


DR. MARIO OTTO

UW Department of Pediatrics

PEDIATRIC CANCER


Dr. Otto and his research group is pursuing novel, alternative approaches to treat childhood cancer. His research includes areas such as adoptive immunotherapies, stem cell graft engineering and molecular targeting of cancers with nanoparticles and small anti-cancer molecules.


YOUSEF ALHARBI

Student Scholar - Dr. Patankar's Lab

OVARIAN CANCER


Alharbi’s research is exploring the mechanism of novel drugs that kill cancer cells by preventing them from maintaining a normal ionic balance across their cell membrane. These novel drugs include a new class of antibody and natural compound--a small molecule agent extracted from the root of the plumbagin plant.


MARK KLEIN

Student Scholar - Dr. John Denu's Lab


Klein's research focuses on developing therapies that combat the growth of cancer cells by targeting epigenetic factors. His research will evaluate changes in the epigenetic modifications of histones, monitor global changes in histone modifications and evaluate cellular updates of small-molecules following treatment.


DR. ANJON AUDHYA

UW Department of Biomolecular Chemistry

BREAST CANCER


The goal of Dr. Audhya's work is to determine whether inhibiting the intracellular movement of key factors that promote metastasis can serve as a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of metastatic cancers in patients.


Therapeutic Resistance

Understanding and predicting how tumors become resistant to different therapies is vital to prolonging life and curing patients.

DR. JOSH LANG

UW Department of Medicine

PROSTATE CANCER


Dr. Lang studies Circulating Tumor Cells to detect cancer at an early stage and develop new treatment approaches for resistant cancers. Through the use of cutting edge microfluidic technology, Dr. Lang has been able to capture cancer cells from a blood draw (instead of a biopsy) to test how cancers become resistant to our current therapies. His research will test these samples to identify men that may benefit from a new class of drugs being developed to target treatment resistant prostate cancers.


DR. SHIGEKI MIYAMOTO

UW Department of Oncology

BLOOD CANCER


Dr. Miyamoto researches how cancers develop therapy resistance and developing strategies to reverse resistance.


DR. RANDY KIMPLE

UW Department of Human Oncology

HEAD & NECK CANCER


Dr. Kimple's research focuses on using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to treat radiation-induced xerostomia. Working with Dr. Jacques Galipeau and the Program for Advanced Cell Therapy, Dr. Kimple's lab seeks to study the MSCs from head and neck cancer patients who have completed radiation to ensure they are capable of being used as a personalized therapy. This pilot study will lay the groundwork for a FDA-IND application and a first-in human clinical trial to treat xerostomia.


Viral Oncology

Over 25% of all cancers are caused by viral infection and UW researchers are leading the way in methods for detection, treatment and prevention of viral-driven cancer.

DR. PAUL AHLQUIST

UW Department of Plant Pathology

CERVICAL CANCER


Dr. Ahlquist studies how viruses cause certain cancers and developing new approaches to improve future treatments for these cancers. Dr. Ahlquist and his collaborators are revealing novel interactions by which papillomavirus-induced cervical cancer cells exchange detailed signals with surrounding, non-cancerous stromal cells, creating a supportive tumor micro-environment essential to tumor development and persistence. The results are providing valuable insights for understanding, diagnosing and controlling cervical cancers, which are still a leading cause of cancer death for women worldwide.


TAO WEI

Student Scholar - Dr. Paul Lambert's Lab

HEAD & NECK CANCER


Wei's research in Dr. Paul Lambert's lab focuses on head and neck cancer which is the sixth most common cancer worldwide. In her research, Wei discovered how a particular gene expression in head and neck cancer contributes to this type of cancer and is working to identify new drug targets that could lead to new therapies to patients.


DR. NATHAN SHERER

UW Department of Oncology

ANOGENITAL CANCER | CERVICAL CANCER | HEAD & NECK CANCER


Dr. Sherer is working in collaboration with Dr. Evie Carchman to identify new targets for treating virus-driven cancers. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most commonly diagnosed sexually-transmitted disease in Wisconsin and the United States and an estimated 79 million Americans are HPV-positive and at elevated risk for deadly HPV associated oral and anogenital cancers. Dr. Sherer's project will determine if FDA-approved protease inhibitors currently used to treat HIV/AIDS can be repurposed to treat or prevent HPV-associated cancers.


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