Research Faculty Appointments
Amrish Sharma, Ph.D.
Lin (Steven) Laboratory
The Chen Laboratory investigates the roles of tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes in DNA repair and other signaling pathways involved in tumor initiation, progression and metastasis.
Our research focuses on the roles of energy metabolism and nutrient sensing in cancer. We study how normal cells and cancer cells sense energy and nutrient availability and how cancer cells adapt to survive and grow under metabolic stress. Our work aims to translate our understanding of cancer metabolism into novel effective cancer therapeutics.
Our aim is to define upfront polytherapy approaches based upon deep systematic interrogation of the aberrant molecular pathways operating in lung and pancreatic cancer to combat or eliminate targeted and immunotherapy resistance and transform the two most deadly human cancers from lethal disease into a curable condition.
Our approach is to (1) develop novel promising immunotherapy approaches using T lymphocytes engineered with Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR-T cells) to act as a "living drug" to kill cancer cells, (2) utilize our recently published method for in vivo CRIPSR-mediated somatic-engineering to generate a pharmacogenomic map that will guide patient treatment and (3) identify novel and “orphan” enzymes substrates important in driving cancer progression and drug resistance.
Our vision is to build a comprehensive disease modeling platform to study novel signaling networks and generate innovative therapeutics using animal models that frightfully represent human disease and to decipher mechanisms of cancer progression and drug resistance. --> Join Our Team
The goal of our research program is to understand how tissue stem cells and self-renewing tumor cells contribute to tissue regeneration and tumorigenesis. Our comprehensive research approaches include genetically engineered mouse models, organoids, cell biology and molecular biology.
The Piwnica-Worms Laboratory identifies alterations with functional significance to the development and progression of invasive triple negative breast cancer (TNBC); and translating results from basic, omic and preclinical studies into improved clinical interventions for breast cancer patients.
Our laboratory research incorporates three broad areas of interest:
1. Developing nanoparticle-based molecular imaging probes to facilitate image-guided therapy;
2. Identifying means to sensitize tumors to radiation therapy using metallic nanoparticles to generate radiation dose-enhancement and/or hyperthermia, and
3. Understanding the role of dietary botanicals as radiation modifying agents in rectal and pancreatic cancer and translating these findings into new treatment options.
We advance these multi-disciplinary paradigms with an eclectic mix of chemists, biologists, engineers and clinicians working in close harmony. We also collaborate extensively with other laboratories not only in the Texas Medical Center but also at other universities both in Texas and outside.
We are a medical physics laboratory composed of a multidisciplinary team of clinical and research physicists, radiation biologists and biologists. We work at the interface of physics and radiation biology with the goal of translating biophysics discoveries to clinical practice.
Exploring the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cytoprotection and regeneration regulated by the EGLN family of prolyl hydroxylases in normal tissues, using genetically engineered mouse models.
Exploiting altered metabolism and mitochondrial function as an Achilles Heel of pancreatic cancer.
Defining the complexity and function of the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic cancer using genetically engineered mouse models and patient samples from clinical trials using advanced biochemical and sequencing techniques. A subtopic in this interest is how hypoxia alters the dynamics of the microenvironment in response to cancer therapy.
Modeling and optimizing stereotactic radiotherapy in preclinical models with both radiomodulators and ion therapy, including protons and carbon ions.
James Welsh, M.D. and his team are committed to finding new therapies for combating solid thoracic tumors, particularly lung cancers. Their research focuses on reactivating the immune system and utilizing it as an in situ vaccine along with radiation in order to battle not just the tumor site, but the microenvironment that it creates. The Welsh Lab believes that this is the key to suppressing local and distant disease, which could have applications in not just lung cancer, but other solid tumors such as breast, prostrate and pancreatic.
Wendy Woodward, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and the Director of Clinical Breast Radiation Research in Department of Radiation Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is a physician-scientist specializing in clinical breast radiation oncology with a lab focused on breast cancer stem cell biology and radiobiology
Experimental Radiation Oncology Mouse Facility
Experimental Radiation Oncology provides a unique service to the Division of Radiation Oncology and to MD Anderson at large. The ERO mouse colony is one of the few mouse facilities in the country that provide a gnotobiotic defined flora animal for research. These mice produce consistent results in research while reducing the number of variables that can affect data from experiments. Many investigators in ERO and within UTMCACC depend on this consistent animal model for their research needs.
We breed all the mice needed within our facility which includes C3Hf/KamLaw, C57BL/6JLaw, Swiss nude mice and SCID mice. We do supply mice for ERO as well as for over 50 investigators in MD Anderson, and they are housed in Veterinary Medicine via a transfer to our facility.
USDA Research Facility Registration #7465, PHS Animal Welfare Assurance #A334301, AAALAC Accredited since 1969