Clinical Science Research Programs

Clinical Science Research Programs 2011-2016 NCI Core Grant

Moshe Talpaz, M.D. is the Translational Associate Director of the Clinical Science Division at the Cancer Center.

Below is a full listing of all UMCCC programs. Those in bold are included in the NCI core grant.


Breast Oncology

Daniel Hayes, M.D., co-director
Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D., co-director

The Breast Oncology Program consists of both laboratory and clinical investigators who work together to translate exciting ideas and observations from the laboratory to the clinic to further advance evaluation and treatment of patients at risk for or with breast cancer. Expertise in the Breast Oncology Program and the associated Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk Evaluation Program spans the gamut of breast cancer. Laboratory studies, clinical trials and clinical services are directed toward evaluation of breast cancer risk, studies of screening and prevention, and trials of new ideas and therapies in patients with established cancer. Moreover, clinical and social researchers in the Breast Oncology Program are performing quality-of-life studies that will help women deal with their diagnosis and maintain their normal lives as easily as possible.

In multidisciplinary collaborations, research and clinical care programs in the Breast Oncology Program are directed toward:

    Risk and Prevention

    • helping women define their risk for breast cancer, including evaluation of the breast cancer associated genes, BrCa 1 and 2
    • discovery of new genes that play a role in breast cancer development
    • improved understanding of how specific genes induce malignant behavior in cancer cells
    • studies of new agents that might complement tamoxifen and prophylactic surgery for the prevention of breast cancer.

    Therapy of Established Breast Cancer

    • studies of non-surgical approaches to treatment of primary breast cancer (eg. cryotherapy)
    • studies of better ways to deliver radiation therapy which may improve its safety and efficacy
    • studies of new agents that might prevent recurrence of breast cancer or for the treatment of patients who have developed recurrences, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapy and immunotherapy
    • studies of genetic differences that explain how different patients respond to or deal with hormone therapy or chemotherapy for breast cancer
    • studies in breast cancer survivors regarding rehabilitation and the treatment of complications from breast cancer therapy, including non-hormonal treatment of post-menopausal symptoms.

Nearly every one of these areas involves multidisciplinary interaction between clinical, laboratory and social scientists who are developing new and better ways of approaching each of these problems. Taken together, the broad interests of the clinicians and of the laboratory and clinical scientists have made the U-M Breast Oncology Program a national leader in breast cancer research and clinical management.

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Gastrointestinal Oncology

Diane Simeone, M.D., director

The GI Oncology Program consists of 41 core members from 18 departments who are supported by $9.4 million in annual direct funding. The members have significant interactions with other programs in the Cancer Center including: Cancer Genetics, Radiation Sciences, Molecular Imaging, Biomedical Prevention, and Cancer Cell Biology. The central themes of the program are divided into disease sites that include pancreas, gastric, colorectal, and liver malignancies. Within the pancreas cancer theme, the goals of the members include: identification of molecular signals and markers of pancreatic cancer, development of new diagnostic tools for pancreas cancer and development of novel therapeutic options for pancreas cancer. Significant basic science investigations are being conducted in the areas of gastric and colorectal cancers. For gastric cancers, the goal has been focused upon the molecular events leading to carcinogenesis. This effort is supported through a program project grant that was awarded to members of the program during this past funding cycle. For colorectal cancers, the major goals have been focused upon investigations in molecular carcinogenesis, molecular epidemiology, and chemoprevention. Within the liver theme, a major effort of the program has been on the development of novel, early detection biomarkers, studies of the tumor microenvironment, and the enhanced use of regional therapies for primary and secondary malignancies. Visit the Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinic web page for more information.

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Head and Neck Oncology

Thomas Carey, Ph.D., co-Director
Mark Prince, M.D., co-Director

The Head and Neck Oncology Program provides advanced diagnostic techniques, management and rehabilitation for patients with cancers of the head and neck. The program works in collaboration with specialists in otolaryngology, radiation oncology, hematology/oncology, speech and language pathology, hospital dentistry and other related fields.

The Head and Neck Oncology Program (HNOP) is a comprehensive program in Head and Neck Cancer Research that includes basic, clinical, behavioral, population and translational research. The program consists of 47 members from 13 departments in 5 schools within the University of Michigan receiving over $5 million in annual direct costs. Many members of this program also hold joint membership in other Cancer Center basic science or prevention programs which integrate additional fundamental research into the underlying mechanisms of head and neck cancer behavior and treatment.

The major scientific aims of the HNO program are to:

  • Define organ preservation strategies in head and neck cancer;
  • Develop and implement reconstruction and rehabilitation techniques for head and neck cancer patients
  • Determine the molecular biology of treatment response;
  • Identify mechanisms of carcinogenesis and progression;
  • Characterize the role of cancer stem cells in tumor progression, invasion, metastasis and resistance to treatment;
  • Define new treatment combinations based on laboratory and clinical studies that define new biomarkers for individualized therapies;
  • Characterize the immunobiology of the tumor microenvironment to better modulate the immune system as a therapeutic modality; and
  • Continue the development of novel reconstruction and rehabilitation of head and neck cancer patients.

In 2008 we successfully renewed the Head and Neck Cancer SPORE which further strengthens the HNOP by providing pilot and career development funding to support new research programs and foster the careers of new investigators focused on head and neck oncology. The HNOP is heavily invested in basic and translational research.


Hematologic Malignancies-BMT

Moshe Talpaz, M.D., co-director
Pavan Reddy, M.D., co-director

The LLBMT Program has established multiple clinical care, basic, translational and clinical research collaborations that have been fostered by the environment at the UMCCC. These efforts have led to several intra- and inter-programmatic projects that have resulted in federal and non-federal research grants, clinical trial and translation research projects and enhanced patient care.


    The overall goal of the translational research in the program is to understand the knowledge of the biology directly from human studies and to link the knowledge gained from animal studies to the discovery and testing of novel approaches into hypothesis driven clinical trials.
    • Development of new preventive strategies for GVHD (Reddy, Choi).
    • Identification of poor risk AML and CLL (Malek, Talpaz, Ross).
    • Identification and development of novel targeted therapy for leukemia (Malek, Talpaz, and Hess).
    • Investigation of cytokine blockade strategies for GVHD (Levine, Choi).
    • Targeted therapy for CML Blast Crises (Talpaz, Wang, and Malek).
    • Development of ECP for GVHD prevention (Levine, Kitko).
    • New efforts to elucidate the pathogenesis of myeloproliferative diseases such as MF and ET (Talpaz, Chinnaiyan).
    • Analyses of laboratory predictive/diagnostic markers for BMT toxicities (Levine, Braun, Reddy).
    • Investigation of proteomic markers and ubiquitination pathway in patients with Multiple Myeloma (Donato).
    • Development of radioimmunotherapy as a treatment option for lymphoma (Ross, Kaminski).


    • Development of new treatments for lung disease after allogeneic BMT through blockade of TNF alpha (Yanik, Mineishi, Levine).
    • Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor: Enbrel (Etanercept) for the Treatment of Acute IPS Following Allogeneic Cell Transplantation (Yanik, Levine).
    • Radiosensitization using bortezomib in patients with relapsed mantle cell or aggressive lymphoma receiving radioimmunotherapy (Kaminski).
    • Combination therapy for CML (Bixby, Talpaz, Donato).
    • Development of novel combination therapies for newly diagnosed and progressive myeloma (Talpaz).


    • Analysis of the genetic regulation of HSCs (Morrison, Maillard, Li).
    • Investigation of histone acetylation in toxicity of allogeneic BMT (Reddy).
    • Proteomic approaches for prognosis and biology of NHL (Elenitoba-Johnson, Lim, Kaminski, Ross, and Hess).
    • Explore the metabolic pathways in donor T cell mediated experimental GVHD (Reddy, and Glick).
    • Targeting alternate pathway in imatinib resistant leukemogenesis (Donato, Talpaz).
    • Insights into the biology and treatment of leukemia.
    • Mechanisms of development of tolerance by photopheresis (Kitko, Levine).
    • Gene profiling strategies for identification of novel pathways and targets in leukemia (Li, Maillard, Malek).
    • Co-operation between Notch-Hox pathways in leukemogenesis (Chiang, Maillard).

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Prostate Cancer Program

Evan Keller, D.V.M., Ph.D., co-director
Ganesh Palapattu, M.D. , co-director

The Prostate Oncology Program is an interdisciplinary group of 29 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers from 11 departments and four schools with over $11 million in annual direct research support. The Prostate Oncology Program continues its primary mission of translating basic and clinical discoveries in prostate cancer into effective medical solutions. The program includes a Prostate SPORE, a PO1 on the Biology of Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis, a Department of Defense funded Prostate Cancer Clinical trials Consortium site (DOD-PCCTC), a prostate-focused Early Disease Research Network (EDRN) site, a NIDDK training grant in Clinical and Translational Research Training in Urology (T32) and two PCF Challenge Awards.

The Program is committed to creating and sustaining a multidisciplinary environment for basic and clinical researchers studying prostate cancer. The objective of the Prostate Oncology Program is to understand the biology of prostate cancer and to use this information to develop new tools for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of prostate cancer.

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Bladder Cancer

TBD, director

The Bladder Cancer Program is devoted to providing comprehensive research-based care to patients with invasive and non-invasive urothelial cancer. We have a multi-disciplinary clinic 3 days per week and a weekly tumor board to discuss complex cases. There are 8 urologic-oncologists, 2 medical oncologists, 3 radiation oncologists, 3 basic scientists, and 2 genitourinary pathologists. We are nationally recognized in the treatment of non-invasive bladder cancer with novel investigational agents and minimally invasive techniques to improve the quality of life for patients with invasive urothelial cancer.

Our research interests in bladder cancer are wide and include health services research in non-invasive bladder cancer to novel therapeutics in metastatic disease. We have over $3.8 million dollars in active research funding.

Our Unique Research Strengths include:

    1. Dr Chinnaiyan’s biomarker studies for the detection of aggressive bladder cancers.
    2. Serum & tumor bank that allow scientists to investigate cellular and genetic abnormalities associated with bladder cancer for future biological targeting.
    3. The most sophisticated health services research enterprise evaluating bladder cancer in the country.
    4. Clinical researchers with special interest in developmental therapeutics in bladder cancer.
    5. Survivorship program has a tracking database to determine the effect of the different recovery algorithms using validated questionnaires.


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Childhood Cancers

Elizabeth Lawlor, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Director
Rajen Mody, M.D.; Co-Director

The Childhood Cancer Program treats patients with pediatric solid tumors, including neuroblastomas, rhabdomyosarcomas, Wilm's tumors and brain tumors, as well as patients with lymphomas, leukemias and other childhood cancers. The program also offers clinics for patients with coagulation disorders and sickle cell anemia. The U-M has the largest pediatric oncology research effort in Michigan. Studies are ongoing to better understand genetic mechanisms underlying neuroblastoma, acute leukemia and brain tumors. Other studies are directed toward improving patients' own defenses against cancer. The U-M program is one of only a few in the United States to hold a training grant in Pediatric Hematology, which allows the program to train future academicians in clinical care and research involving childhood hematologic and oncologic diseases.

For more information, see the Pediatric Cancer Research web page.

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Connective Tissue

Scott Schuetze, M.D., Ph.D., director

The University of Michigan Connective Tissue Program (originally called the Sarcoma Program) was one of the first truly multidisciplinary programs in the Cancer Center. The physicians who staff the program offer a comprehensive range of expertise with specialty training in medical oncology, orthopedic oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, tumor imaging and pathology of bone and soft tissue sarcomas. The Connective Tissue Program also interfaces with physicians in otolaryngology, neurosurgery, thoracic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, gynecologic oncology and urology for the optimal treatment of patients with this disease.

Sarcomas are rare tumors of connective tissue that arise from bone and soft tissues. There are more than 50 sub-types of sarcoma (which includes gastrointestinal stromal tumors, desmoids tumors and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans). This disease occurs in children, teenagers and adults. The Connective Tissue Program cares for a large volume of patients - about 250 new cases annually - with these rare tumors. This volume has allowed the team to develop well-rounded experience in treating these diseases, which is an advantage considering most community-based practices see fewer than 10 cases a year.

The Connective Tissue Program has a robust clinical trials program of U-M-initiated studies; it also actively participates in cooperative group trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and trials of novel drugs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. The U-M Sarcoma Program was a founding member of the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration, a multi-institutional clinical trials group that is dedicated to advances in sarcoma treatment through research.

Currently, the Connective Tissue Program's clinical research emphasis is on phase 2 studies of new drugs to identify chemotherapy that may benefit more patients with connective tissue tumors. The group is focusing on identifying new drugs to treat specific types of rare sarcomas, allowing for the development of tailored, patient-specific treatment that's more effective than traditional, "one-size-fits-all" approaches. In addition, the program is developing and implementing a series of phase 1 studies to investigate new combinations of drugs in the treatment of sarcomas, and collaborating with researchers in Radiology to explore novel imaging techniques to evaluate sarcoma response to drug treatment.

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Cutaneous Oncology

Andrej A. Dlugosz, M.D., co-director
Timothy Johnson, M.D., co-director

The Cutaneous Oncology Program consists of clinical and research programs devoted to melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.

The Melanoma Multidisciplinary Clinic, designated as the National Cancer Institute's Midwest referral center, offers patients efficient and expedited care regardless of their disease stage. Comprehensive patient care is achieved through the concerted efforts of caretakers from 15 departments or sections, making this one of the most active melanoma clinics in the nation. The Clinic also offers novel melanoma treatment protocols, including gene therapy, adoptive immunotherapy, and combination chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The University of Michigan is a leader in the field of Mohs surgery for the treatment of higher risk basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, and soft tissue reconstruction of skin cancer defects.

The scientific mission of the Cutaneous Oncology Program is to utilize knowledge gained from basic, preclinical and clinical research endeavors to improve the overall care of patients with skin cancer. We believe that understanding the molecular basis and biology of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers will drive future innovations in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Basic research efforts are focused on areas that have relevance to all forms of cutaneous neoplasia, including the investigation of molecular, biochemical, cellular, and tissue alterations driving the development and progression of skin cancer.

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Endocrine Oncology

Gary Hammer, M.D., Ph.D., director

The Multidisciplinary Endocrine Oncology Program was formally established at the University of Michigan in 2005. It is currently comprised of leaders in the fields of medical endocrinology, endocrine surgery, radiology, nuclear medicine, pathology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and genetics. Cases treated in this program include thyroid cancer, benign adrenal disorders, rare endocrine disorders such as adrenocortical carcinoma, pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma, medullary thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer, parathyroid cancer, gastrinoma, insulinoma, other neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas, carcinoid tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, and endocrine disorders related to a genetic syndromes including those with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (Types I, IIA and IIB), Von Hipple Lindau , Neurofibromatosis, and Li-Fraumeni syndromes. Cases are followed with weekly Tumor Board review.

The Multidisciplinary Endocrine Oncology Clinic is one of only a few medical centers in the United States recognized as an international center of excellence for the treatment of adrenal cancer. In 2009, it received the distinction as a Destination Program.

Members of the multidisciplinary team are actively engaged in research related to the disease processes they treat. Basic research focuses on adrenal and thyroid tissue and cancer stem cells, signaling and transcription in endocrine organ growth and differentiation, modeling of adrenal and thyroid cancer in transgenic mice,endocrine adrenal and thyroid neoplasms. Translational studies include preclinical studies with stereotactic radiotherapy and novel therapeutic agents that target signaling pathways and transcription factors known to participate in endocrine cancers. Clinical research focuses on outcomes research, maintaining a large patient database and sample repository to fuel future research in rare conditions and several interventional therapeutic trials.

Learn more about Endocrine Oncology Research.


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Gynecology Oncology

director, TBA

The Gynecologic Oncology Program is devoted to providing comprehensive care to women with cancer of the reproductive tract including cancers of the vulva, vagina, cervix, endometrium, Fallopian tube, ovary and peritoneum, in addition to gynecologic sarcoma and gestational trophoblastic disease. Patients with new cancer diagnoses or recurrences are presented at the gynecologic oncology conference. Founded in the 1930s, this multidisciplinary conference encourages critical evaluation of treatment options. Patients receive state-of-the-art care including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy and are able to participate in clinical trials. The U-M is known for landmark investigations in cervical and vulvar cancers, and has reported some of the lowest complication rates and highest survival rates in the world for treatment of primary and recurrent cervical and vulvar cancers. Current research interests include understanding the genetic and hormonal events leading to development of ovarian and endometrial cancer, and chemoprevention for cervical cancer.


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Neuro-Oncology Program

Larry Junck, M.D., director

The Neuro-oncology Program focuses on management of patients with malignant and benign tumors of the brain and spinal cord, but also provides care to patients with neurological complications of systemic cancer. Care is provided by close collaboration among physicians in Neurology, Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Radiation Oncology, and input is also provided from members in Pathology, Radiology, and other disciplines. Cases are discussed at the weekly Brain Tumor Board. Clinical trial offerings include local trials as well as trials sponsored by national consortia, pharmaceutical firms, and biotechnology firms. Clinical trials have addressed radiosensitizing drugs, cytotoxic and non-cytotoxic drug therapy, gene therapy, immunotoxins infused using convection-enhanced delivery, and neuro-imaging.

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Michelle Riba, M.D., director

The PsychOncology Program provides clinical care and teaching, and investigates questions related to the emotional aspects of cancer. The staff is multidisciplinary and provides care to patients of all ages and with all types and stages of cancer, and their families. The newPsychOncology Clinic, located and staffed within the Cancer Center, affords the ability to evaluate and treat patients by a highly skilled group of clinicians. Research endeavors of the PsychOncology Program include:

  • Developing screening methods for “distress” in patients with cancer, and their families.
  • Determining best practices for the care of children of adult patients (parents) with cancer.
  • Understanding neurocognitive changes in patients with prostate cancer.
  • Screening for specific psychiatric problems in patients with bladder cancer.
  • Evaluating the use of supportive/expressive group psychotherapy.
  • Developing training methods for clinicians to deliver bad news and optimizing communication patterns.

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Thoracic Oncology

Gregory P. Kalemkerian, M.D., co-director
Andrew C. Chang, M.D., co-director

The Thoracic Oncology Program focuses on the care of patients with esophageal and lung cancers, and research aimed at developing more effective therapy for these diseases. The Program consists of thoracic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists and nurses dedicated to providing patients with the best possible care. Members meet weekly in a multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Conference and a variety of clinical trials are available, ranging from chemoprevention studies to the evaluation of state-of-the-art investigational therapies. The team’s expertise with emerging technologies including photodynamic therapy and thoracoscopy allows for less invasive options in the diagnosis and care of patients with thoracic cancers. For patients with esophageal cancer, transhiatal esophagectomy without thoracotomy was pioneered and refined at the University of Michigan by Mark Orringer, M.D. The procedure, which is now a standard treatment for esophageal cancer, involves removal of the esophagus with greater safety than was possible in the past. More than 1,800 patients have undergone this operation at the University of Michigan in the last 20 years, the largest experience with this procedure in the United States. The operative mortality rate for this procedure at U-M is less than three percent, with an average length of stay of only seven days. The Thoracic Oncology Program is also a leader in the development of combined modality therapy for esophageal cancer in which patients are treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery in an attempt to improve their chances for survival.

last update 06.2016

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