The research efforts of William Hawkins, MD, Neidorff Family and Robert C. Packman Professor and chief of the Section of HPB-GI Surgery, focus on approaches to the development of novel pancreas cancer therapeutics. His lab has a drug development program concentrating on the design of small drugs capable of cancer-selective delivery of pro-apoptotic molecules. The lab also has projects developing novel immunotherapeutic approaches. In brief, investigators in Dr. Hawkins' lab combine vaccination strategies with adjuvants and immune regulators in an attempt to create a host-based immune attack on pancreatic cancer cells. The lab has a bench-to-bedside approach and drugs in every stage of development from conceptualization to clinical testing. Basic science and clinical projects are available to surgical residents and can be tailored to the individual’s interests. Many residents have done both a basic science project and clinical trials.
Steven Strasberg, MD, the Pruett Professor of Surgery and Carl Moyer Departmental Teaching Coordinator, conducts clinical research in liver and pancreatic surgery. The main foci of these studies are liver cancer and cancer of the pancreas. Some studies are technical in nature and deal with methods of improving surgical safety and extending operations for these conditions. Other studies center on downsizing tumors to resectability and determining predictors of outcome.
The research laboratory of Ryan Fields, MD, focuses on the genomic analysis of primary and metastatic solid tumors. Through collaborations with investigators in the Washington University Genome Center, the Institute for Clinical and Translational Studies, and the Program in Biologic Therapeutics, Dr. Fields’ research group is characterizing differences in the mutational profile of primary and metastatic tumors with the goal of deepening our understanding of the biology of tumor metastasis. The goals of this research are to: (1) identify differences in cellular pathways that lead to improved prognostic/diagnostic testing (in order to determine which patients are at high risk for developing metastatic disease and would optimally benefit from adjuvant therapy); and (2) to identify targets for new drugs/therapeutics. The translational/clinical effort of Dr. Fields includes developing programs in the regional treatment of solid tumors. This includes: (1) regional perfusion for advanced extremity melanoma, combining traditional agents with novel/targeted therapy; (2) liver perfusion for advanced liver tumors not amendable to traditional treatment options using novel/targeted therapy (this includes the treatment of advanced uveal melanoma to the liver); and (3) hepatic arterial infusion pump therapy as an adjunct to standard treatment of primary and metastatic liver tumors.