Division Research

Debabrata Banerjee, Ph.D.

  • Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells as a source of tumor associated myofibroblasts
  • Determining the mechanism of action of Aplidin in leukemia and lymphoma models in vitro and in vivo epigenetic therapy for colorectal cancer

Dr Banerjee’s research has shown that bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells is a source of Carcinoma Associated Fibroblasts and can be used in the modeling of tumor-stroma interactions. We are currently working on identification of novel therapeutic targets aimed at disrupting such interactions within the tumor microenvironment.  Recent studies indicate that bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) exposed to tumor-conditioned medium assume a tumor associated fibroblastic phenotype.  More importantly, these cells also exhibit functional properties of tumor associated fibroblasts including increased expression of stromal derived factor 1 (SDF-1) and the ability to promote tumor cell growth both in vitro and in an in vivo coimplantation model. 

Dr Banerjee previously determined that Aplidin synergizes with Ara-C; he is currently determining the most effective dose schedule of this combination in vitro and in vivo using the previously described models.

Tulin Budak-Alpdogan, M.D.

Dr. Budak-Alpdogan’s research focused on validation of ex vivo gene transfer into mobilized peripheral blood stem cells for their drug resistance gene therapy protocol, as well as developing new vector backbones for safer gene transfer strategies.  Dr Budak-Alpdogan’s research group also collaborates with Dr. Bertino and Dr. Strair on Developing UCB expansion and/or co-transplant models for adult HSC transplant recipients.

Karine Cohen Solal, Ph.D.

Dr. Cohen-Solal’s research has two major axes. 1) The first one is to try to elucidate the mechanisms of resistance of melanoma cells to TGFβ tumor suppressive activities. 2) The second one is to analyze the signaling pathways affected by an inhibitor of glutamate release, called Riluzole, which has demonstrated therapeutic efficacy as single agent in a phase O trial on melanoma patients. Dr. Cohen-Solal is also interested in a possible link between the glutamate signaling and the TGFβ signaling pathway.

Shridar Ganesan, M.D., Ph.D.

Silencing Factors in DNA Repair. Basic project examining the role of chromatin silencing factors in DNA repair, and exploring the relationship between genetic instability and epigenetic instability in cancer.

Finding Targeted Therapy for Basal-like breast cancer. Bioinformatic approach to subclassification of BLC and identification of putative target pathways.  Further characterization of DNA repair defects in BLC. Collaboration with Gyan Bhanot, Antoinette Tan, Deb Toppmeyer.

Computer-aided image analysis of breast cancer histology:; Collaboration with Anant Madabhushi at Rutgers: developing image-analysis based classification of breast cancer that will function as well as gene-expression based assays such as OncotypeDx.

Janice Mehnert, M.D.

Dr. Mehnert’s research has focused on novel therapeutic targets in melanoma and other solid tumors.  She has an interest in angiogenesis in melanoma and ways to circumvent resistance to antiangiogenic inhibitors; in the insulin growth factor receptor signaling pathway and inhibitors of this pathway in solid tumors; and, in the autophagy pathways as a mechanism of survival in malignancy.

Rebecca Moss, M.D.

Autophagy and Anti-Angiogenesis in Metastatic Colorectal Carcinoma: A Phase II trial of Hydroxychloroquine to Augment Effectiveness of XELOX-Bevacizumab.

Elizabeth Poplin, M.D.

Dr Poplin’s major interests are the development of innovative treatments for gastrointestinal malignancy and exploring avenues for improved care of the elderly.  Dr Poplin has just published the results of ECOG 6201, an 832 patient study comparing standard care to two experimental treatments. 

Michael Reiss, M.D.

  • Mechanisms of resistance of human cancer cells to inhibition of growth by Transforming Growth Factor-B
  • Development of selective TGFB receptor kniase antagonists as novel anti-cancer and anti-fibrotic agents
  • Structure-function studies of Transforming Growth Factor-B receptor germline mutations in cancer and Marfan-like syndromes.

Arnold Rubin, M.D.

Dr. Ruben’s translational research focuses on two major areas.  The first involves attempts to make stem cell transplantation more effective, safer, and applicable to a larger portion of the population.  He is working with unrelated cord blood, which has looser matching requirements and can be applied to larger numbers of potential recipients but is limited by the number of stem cells in a given cord unit.  Additionally, he is working with radiated lymphocytes as a means of facilitating engraftment of less than optimal numbers of cells in a unit.  This research is still in the animal model stage.  Using mesenchymal stem cells derived from placental Wharton’s Jelly, Dr Rubin studies whether these stem cells may be helpful in preventing graft vs host disease, the scurge of allogeneic transplantation.  This project is being carried out in conjunction with Dr. Bertino’s group.

Secondly, Dr. Rubin is working with Dr. Strair’s team on ‘micro transplants’, which can induce immunotherapy of leukemias and other malignancies without relying on engraftment and the potential of graft vs host disease.

Birin Saraiya, M.D.

Dr. Saraiya’s research is focused on improving the care of patients with cancer.  She is interested in understanding the symptoms suffered by patients, the impact of the symptoms on their quality of life and the impact of interventions such as focus on symptom management on the improvement of symptoms and quality of life. 

Dale Schaar, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Schaar’s Laboratory showed that microRNAs induced by differentiation agents were able to the human transferrin receptor and modulating cell proliferation.  These results have afforded new insights into iron metabolism and have the potential to be translated as novel anti-cancer agents.

Deborah Toppmeyer, M.D.

  • Is the Newly Discovered SNP309 a Genetic Marker for early-age onset of Breast Cancer?”
  • CINJ High School Breast Cancer Education and Outreach Program
  • LOH at BRCA1/BRCA2 Loci as a Precursor to Breast Tumorigenesis
  • Computational and Systems Biology-Enhanced Molecular Epidemiology Network
  • Epithelial Itegrity in Breast Cancer Recurrence.