Research Mentors

A brief description of each participating faculty members’ research activities that are relevant to the Training Program in Medical Oncology is provided below. As will become apparent, fellows are provided a multitude of outstanding choices in which to pursue their research. All trainees are given the opportunity to totally integrate into the research activities of their preceptor, resulting in joint publications

Olufunmilayo (Funmi) Olopade, MBBS, FACP, is the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Medicine and Human Genetics, and Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health. She is a Training Cluster Leader within the CTSA  and serves as the  Program Director and Principal Investigator of  the T32 training program. She is also a member of the Committees on Cancer Biology, on Genetics, Genomics & Systems Biology and on Molecular Medicine. Dr. Olopade’s research focuses on the interactions between genetics and environment in the onset of cancer, especially the genetic basis of breast cancer in young women of African ancestry in the U.S. and West Africa, and on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in women at high risk. In her clinical work, Dr. Olopade is an authority on cancer risk assessment and prevention, and on individualized treatment based on risk factors and quality of life. Dr. Olopade has received numerous professional honors and awards, including the MacArthur Foundation Award, as well as the ASCO Young Investigator Award, the James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award, the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, ACS Clinical Research Professorship and others.  She is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was recently elected to the American Philosophical Society.  She served on the board of directors for the American Board of Internal Medicine and the National Cancer Advisory Board.    Dr. Olopade has received a Distinguished Exceptional Mentoring award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and serves as a visible role model in our institution, using this platform to recruit many students and residents to careers in academic oncology. She also serves as a mentor to students in the College who regularly come into her laboratory to work on various research projects. In addition, as a member of the Graduate Minority Program, she plays an active role in recruiting minorities to our institution and in encouraging them to pursue rigorous biomedical research. As the director of the CTSA K12 and the Paul Calabresi Scholars K12 in Clinical Oncology at our institution, Dr. Olopade devotes significant time to mentoring senior fellows as they transition to junior faculty roles, especially women and minorities. Lastly, Dr. Olopade recently established a Global Health Fellowship program that provides opportunities for short-term training of foreign cancer researchers at the University of Chicago, as a way to enhance diversity in our fellowship program and to provide service learning opportunities for our trainees.

Erin Adams, PhD, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Adams investigates the immune system and molecular recognition mechanisms that are used by the immune system to distinguish healthy from unhealthy tissue.

Habibul Ahsan, MD, MMedSc, Associate Director of Population Research at UCCCC, is a Professor of Health Studies, Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. He has been a key investigator (Faculty/Mentor) on three long-standing NIH T32/R25 training grants on Cancer Epidemiology and Genetic Epidemiology at Columbia University and also as a Mentor on several K grant applications of junior faculties/trainees.

Vineet Arora, MD,  Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of General Internal Medicine. Her research includes understanding and improving the learning environment for medical trainees and the quality and safety of care delivered to hospitalized patients.

Eugene Chang, MD,  is the Martin Boyer Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Associate Section Chief of Gastroenterology. He is a renowned researcher in the fields of intestinal epithelial biology and pathobiology of the digestive tract. Dr. Chang has trained many individuals at various stages of training, many of whom have become independent investigators and leaders in academic medicine.

Marcus Clark, MD, Professor and Chief of the Section of Rheumatology in the Department of Medicine. He has long-standing interest in research of B cell antigen receptor (BCR) signaling and how BCR dependent processes regulate specific cell fate decisions.  

Kenneth Cohen, MD; Associate Professor of Medicine in the Section of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Medicine. He serves as program director for the Section’s adult fellowship program. In this capacity, he works to provide fellows with the resources and experiences they need to progress from dependent learners to independent clinicians and scientists.

Susan Cohn, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Clinical Research, Section of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, is a highly respected expert in pediatric cancers and blood diseases. She is one of the few pediatric oncologists in the United States who is conducting Phase I clinical trials of promising treatments for the disease.

James Dignam, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences. Dr. Dignam’s areas of statistical methodology research include clinical trial design and interim monitoring, competing risks analysis, hazard function estimation, and survival data modeling.

Gini Fleming, MD,  Professor of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology.Dr. Fleming works with clinical trials to develop new agents for the therapy of breast and gynecologic cancers.

Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, AbbVie Foundation Professor  of Cancer Immunotherapy.  Dr. Gajewski investigates and develops new treatments for patients with melanoma. He has a special interest in the development of immunotherapies against this disease. Dr. Gajewski also leads development of immune-based therapies for other cancers, using new laboratory data on how the immune system is regulated to develop novel clinical trials.

Lucy Godley, M.D., PhD, Professor of Medicine in the Section of Hematology/Oncology. Dr. Godley trained in our  fellowship program and is an active participant in the Medical Scientist Training Program. Dr. Godley has a special interest in the molecular basis of bone marrow malignancies and studies the basis for cancer cells’ abnormal patterns of DNA methylation, as well as inherited forms of bone marrow cancers.

Robert Grossman, PhD,Frederick H. Rawson Distinguished Service Professor; Co-Chief,Section of Computational Biomedicine & Biomedical Data Science;Director of the Center for Translational Data Science; Chief Research Informatics Officer of the Biological Sciences Division, is an expert in data intensive and cloud computing and has led the development of the cloud-based Cistrack and Bionimbus systems.

Chuan He, PhD, Professor in the Department of Chemistry, studies dynamic and reversible RNA and DNA methylation in gene expression regulation with chemical and biological tools. He was among the first in the world to recognize the importance of RNA modification in gene regulation and is a world leader in developing technologies for profiling these modifications.

Tara Henderson, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology and Oncology. Dr. Henderson’s research interests include the outcomes of childhood, adolescent and young adult cancer survivors and the clinical trials of upfront Hodgkin lymphoma therapy.

Dezheng Huo, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, Section of Epidemiology. Dr. Huo’s research includes the etiology and outcomes of cancer, in particular, the genetic and molecular epidemiology of breast cancer, biomarkers for cancer detection and prognosis, cancer screening, utilization radiation therapy, and lifestyle factors for cancer in understudied populations, particularly the African population.

Barbara Kee, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology. Her research focuses on the development of mature hematopoietic cells which requires the coordinated activity of many transcription factors that regulate differentiation, survival, and proliferation. Dr. Kee’s research is focused on the understanding how these processes are controlled during commitment of multipotent cells to the lymphoid lineages.

Karen Kim, MD, Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology. Dr. Kim’s research focuses on colorectal cancer, Hepatitis B, and women’s health issues.

Hedy Kindler, MD,  Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology and Associate Vice Chair for Clinical Research for the Department of Medicine. Dr. Kindler is a clinical-translational researcher with extensive experience in developing clinical trials for pancreatic cancer and malignant mesothelioma.

Stephen Kron MD, PhD,  Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology, uses genetics and cell biology to dissect the CDC28 gene and its regulators, find targets of the kinase, and learn how developmental signals and checkpoints act on the cell cycle.

Diane Lauderdale, PhD, MA, Professor and Chair, Department of Public Health Sciences  is a renowned epidemiologic researcher, with interests in social epidemiology and epidemiological methods and study design. She studies many clinical conditions, including sleep disorders, health of immigrant populations, and birth outcomes related to prenatal care.

Michelle Le Beau, PhD, Arthur and Marian Edelstein Professor in the Section of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Medicine, and Director of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC). Dr. Le Beau’s research focus has been dedicated to cancer, particularly cytogenetic and molecular analysis of the hematological malignancies.

Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD,  Professor  and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Lengyel’s research focus is on gynecologic malignancies, specifically, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers.

Kay MacLeod, PhD, Associate Professor for Ben May Department for Cancer Research. Dr. MacLeod’s research focus is on the regulation of cell cycle checkpoints, and cell death, by the RB tumor suppressor in response to oxidative stress and DNA damage.

David Meltzer MD, PhD,  Fanny L. Pritzker Professor  and Chief of the  Section of Hospital Medicine. Dr. Meltzer’s research focuses on a variety of problems at the interface of health and the social sciences, with an emphasis on issues of relevance for older persons.

Gokhan Mutlu, MD, Professor of Medicine  and  Chief of  the Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care, in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Mutlu’s research interests are in the mechanisms by which mitochondrial metabolism and oxidant generation regulate inflammation during injury to the lung.

Odenike Olatoyosi, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology. Dr. Olatoyosi’s research focuses on developing novel therapeutic agents for acute and chronic leukemias and chronic myeloproliferative diseases.

Blasé Polite, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology. Dr. Polite is a colorectal cancer oncologist with a research focus on health disparities and health policy, specifically focusing on a better understanding of stage specific survival disparities and use of aggressive end of life care among racial and ethnic minority patients.

Mark Ratain, MD, Leon O. Jacobson Professor of Medicine and Chairman, Committee on Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics, is a hematologist/oncologist studying interindividual variability (particularly pharmacogenetic variability) in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of anticancer agents.

Marsha Rosner, PhD,  Charles B. Huggins Professor of Cancer Research, has been studying the regulation of the Ras/Raf1 MAP kinase cascade pathway and has recently demonstrated that different growth factors such as EGF and FGF activate MAP (ERK) kinases by different mechanisms.

Hans Schreiber, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Pathology. Dr. Schreiber’s research is in tumor immunology, tumor progression, tumor specific T-cell clones, characterization of tumor variants, and the molecular genetics of tumor antigens.

Mark Siegler, MD, FACP, is the Lindy Bergman Professor at the University of Chicago, Professor in the Department of Medicine, and the Director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. His academic interests are in the area of clinical medical ethics.

Sonali Smith, MD, Elwood Jensen Professor in the Department of Medicine and Interim Chief of the Section of Hematology and Oncology. Dr. Smith’s research is in the diversity and spectrum of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

Julian Solway, MD, is a Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine for Pulmonary Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Dean for Translational Medicine, and Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Medicine. His research focuses on airway smooth muscle function and dysfunction in asthma, having studied smooth muscle specific gene transcription, protein accumulation, and hypertrophy, and signaling mechanisms that regulate these.

Walter Stadler, MD, Fred C. Buffett Professor of Medicine and Dean for Clinical Research for the Division of Biological Sciences. Dr. Stadler’s research focuses on developing novel therapies and biomarkers, especially for genitourinary cancer. In addition to an extensive history performing trials in kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer, he has broad experience in leading efforts supporting clinical trial infrastructure and conduct.

Wendy Stock, MD, Anjuli Seth Nayak Professor in Leukemia and  Director, Leukemia Program, is an authority in the medical management of all types of leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. She collaborates with other oncologists around the world through the National Cancer Institute and the Cancer and Leukemia Group B to help identify and develop better approaches to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

Melody Swartz, PhD, Professor for the Institute for Molecular Engineering. Dr. Swartz’s research focuses on elucidating the roles of lymphatic transport and function as it relates to cancer and immunity, using a variety of interdisciplinary approaches, and integrating biotechnology and microtechnology with immunobiology, physiology and biomechanics.

Everett Vokes, MD, is Chair, Department of Medicine, and the John E. Ultmann Professor of Oncology with a secondary appointment in the Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology. Dr. Vokes is highly experienced in the conduct of cancer clinical trials, particularly Phase II clinical trials of new anticancer drugs.

Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, D.K. Ludwig Professor and Chair, Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology. Dr. Weichselbaum specializes in the experimental treatment of advanced gastrointestinal malignancies. His research interests include how radiation therapy attacks blood vessels and how radiation therapy regulates genes. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 30 years.

Kevin White, PhD, Professor of Human Genetics and the Director of the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology. Dr. White is also a senior member of the University of Chicago Medical Comprehensive Cancer Center, overseeing both systems biology initiatives and large scale sequencing efforts.


Junior Mentors 

Daniel Catenacci, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology. His focus is on basic cancer biology with a translational focus on clinical trials and laboratory correlates for gastrointestinal malignancies, gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma, the RON/MET signaling metastatic pathways, and inter-patient/intra-patient tumor heterogeneity.

Justin Kline, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology, with previous K23 and R01 funding. Dr. Kline’s research is in discovering and interfering with immune evasion pathways exploited by acute myeloid leukemia.

Peter O’Donnell, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology, with R01 funding. His research interests include genitourinary malignancies, and the discovery and implementation of pharmacogenomic determinants governing drug response and toxicity, especially in bladder cancer.

Akash Patnaik, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology, focused on genitourinary cancers, including prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancers. His work, funded by several sources, including DOD, centers on translating novel therapies from the laboratory to early stage clinical trials. He is interested in developing personalized patient models of disease in order to interpret therapeutics, develop biomarkers, and help patients make informed decisions about their care.

Brandon Pierce, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, Section of Epidemiology, with R01 funding. Dr. Pierce’s research focuses on understanding the etiology of cancer, with active work related to prostate, breast, pancreatic and skin cancer, with a strong emphasis on identifying interactions between genetic factors and environmental factors, leveraging high-dimensional genomic data and biomarker data, with the goal of identifying cancer risk and prognostic factors and elucidating cancer-related biological mechanisms.

Russell Szmulewitz, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology and Oncology, with DOD funding. Dr. Szmulewitz is researching the molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer progression as well as therapeutic and biomarker development.