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Center for Targeted Therapy

The establishment of the Center for Targeted Therapy, one of six unique facilities that makes up the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer, allows researchers and clinicians alike the ability to coordinate all stages of the drug discovery and development process in order to design new more effective and specific drugs with less toxicity, targeted for personalized therapy, thereby accelerating the delivery of new drug therapies from the research bench to the patient’s bedside. Under the direction of Varsha Gandhi, Ph.D., professor and chair ad interim in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, the CTT is comprised of approximately 65 faculty.


The CTT's mission begins with hypothesis-driven research that identifies and validates targets; continues with the discovery, development and design of biological therapies and drug agents; and is followed by pre-clinical and clinical trials – with each step working toward the goal of personalized medicine.


  • Personalized Medicine
  • Molecularly Targeted Therapy
  • New Technologies
    (Computational Biology, Functional Genomic Screening, Nanobiotechnology, NextGen Sequencing and Non-coding RNA)

An important aspect of the Center for Targeted Therapy's work is a close association with the , which develops non-invasive image tests that follow therapy, and the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., and Helen C. Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers allowing investigators the opportunity to maximize the therapeutic benefit of treatment and limit the undesirable side effects of therapeutic agents. Minimally invasive imaging procedures and tissue biomarkers are used to identify those patients who are likely to respond to a drug treatment and subsequently to follow the response to the drug. The goal of this team approach – personalized cancer medicine – is greater antitumor efficacy and fewer side effects for the patient.

In keeping with our efforts to deliver new drug and biologic therapies, going from initial concept to the clinic, MD Anderson Cancer Center develops drugs for novel molecular targets, thinks innovatively about new therapies, targets major as well as underserved cancers and aggressively pursues the goal of personalized medicine for the benefit of patients. While many useful cancer drugs have been developed by the pharmaceutical industry, they are necessarily commercial-driven by market share. As part of an academic institution, commercial success is not a top priority for the Center for Targeted Therapy, thereby placing us in the unique position of being able to coordinate all stages of the therapeutic discovery and development process -- in a way that pharmaceutical companies do not -- by focusing on personalized medicine, developing new agents against innovative new targets, and traditionally underserved cancers.

The anchor academic department for the CTT is Experimental Therapeutics. Investigators are involved in all aspects of cancer drug discovery and development ranging from the discovery of cancer-relevant drug targets, lead compounds and lead optimization to preclinical pharmacology and toxicology.

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© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center