Research Focus

Epidemiology and Prevention

  • Screening high-risk patients for hepatocellular cancers, with emphasis on people of Asian ancestry, and patients with Barrett’s esophagus for esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • Using advanced endoscopic procedures to screen patients for pancreatic cancer, especially those with pancreatitis and new-onset diabetes, and using the oral microbiome as a screening tool to identify people at high risk for pancreatic adenocarcinoma
  • Researching the role of dendritic cells in linking chronic pancreatitis to pancreatic cancers, intensive screening of patients at high risk for hereditary colorectal and gastric cancers, and RAS proteins and their relationship to the etiology and progression of pancreatic cancer

The Molecular Biology of GI Malignancies: Factors Influencing Prognosis, Progression and Therapeutic Efficacy

Current research includes such topics as:

  • The role of mTOR inhibition in hepatocellular cancer
  • The role of DNA repair genes in determining which therapy to use for locally advanced esophageal cancer and stage IV gastric cancer and the roles of the hedgehog pathway and of aurora kinase inhibition in treating advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer
  • The use of gene expression profile analysis to identify colon tumors that have BRAF-like mutations and clinical attributes
  • Clarifying the role of isoprenylcysteine carboxymethyltransferase as a potential suppressor of pancreatic adenocarcinoma
  • Testing the role of the histone deacytylase as an early tumor suppressor in pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIn) and the role of catenin-responsive transcription in augmenting the chemoradiation response for colorectal stem cells

The Immunologic Parameters Influencing Tumor Development, Therapy, and Outcome of Pancreatic, Large Bowel, and Gastric Cancers

The group is currently studying the roles of:

  • Toll-like receptors and dendritic cells in pancreatic tumorigenesis
  • Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GMCSF) in promoting of pancreatic cancer resistance via stroma
  • Transforming growth factor beta (TGFB) in suppressing and promoting pancreatic and rectal cancers during various stages of tumorigenesis and therapy
  • Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA4) inhibition in extending the responses of patients with stage IV gastric cancer