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Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant Research

The Division of Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant at Rush University Medical Center has a long-standing commitment to testing targeted therapies that inhibit specific cancer growth pathways.

We were involved in early studies that led to approval of trastuzumab (Herceptin) in breast cancer and to approval of erlotinib (Tarceva) in lung cancer. We continue to offer clinical trials testing the latest targeted therapies in solid tumors (breast cancer, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, gastrointestinal cancers and genitourinary cancers) and in hematologic malignancies (lymphomas, leukemias and multiple myeloma).

In addition, we offer our patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trials testing a variety of immunotherapies. These trials involve antibodies that target specific proteins on the surfaces of tumor and immune cells allow release of the brakes on the immune system and allowing a patient's immune cells to kill cancer cells.

Our research

We're also involved in laboratory research and clinical studies that could provide novel ways to treat cancer. 

We are testing strategies to inhibit tumor cell sugar utilization as a way to inhibit tumor growth in our laboratories, and we are evaluating this idea in lymphoma patients who are being treated with standard chemotherapy combined with metformin, a drug commonly used to treat diabetes mellitus.

We are also studying mechanisms involved in weight loss and muscle-wasting, which occur frequently in advanced cancer patients. Identifying mediators of the wasting process in cancer patients could identify new therapeutic targets leading to improved quality of life and prolonged survival.

Faculty Member Division Research Expertise
Sunita Nathan, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy Severe Mucositis with Bendamustine Etoposide Ara-C and Melphalan (Be-EAM) As Conditioning Regimen in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) Patients Undergoing Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation (AutoSCT). Role of allogeneic transplantation in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in the era of novel therapies.
Marta Batus, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy Most research involves lung cancer: clinical and translational. Translational projects with small cell lung cancer (biomarkers) and non-small cell lung cancer (platinum-retreatment, Alimta maintenance, and neutrophile to lymphocyte ratio and correlating clinical outcomes).
Melody Cobleigh, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy

Breast cancer treatment (all subtypes); molecular markers of sensitivity/resistance to HER2-targeted therapies for breast cancer; racial disparities – biology of breast cancer in racial subtypes.

Mary Jo Fidler, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy Evaluating the relationship of serum biomarkers and cancer cachexia as defined by CT scan muscle mass/density muscle mass; comparative effectiveness of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy versus chemotherapy alone followed by surgery; epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) 
William Leslie, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy  
Ruta Rao, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy Developing an IORT Program for Breast Cancer in a University Setting; 21-Gene Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction Assay and Demographics in Estrogen Receptor Positive, Progesterone Receptor Positive, HER2 negative Breast Cancer, an Analysis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Patients in an Urban Academic Hospital.
Lydia Usha, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy Clinical trials in breast and gynecologic cancers with a special interest in the trials for mutation carriers and triple-negative breast ca; prevention studies in high risk populations such as mutation carriers; cellular therapy for solid tumor.
Sefer Gezer, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy

Warfarin Adverse event reduction for adults receiving genetic testing at therapy initiation (Protocol IG-0109) with Iverson Genetic Diagnostics; PRESERVE: A prospective, Randomized, double-blinded, placebo controlled phase II Trial of intra-coronary infusion of AMR-001, a bone marrow derived Autologous CD34+ selected cell product, in patients with acute myocardial infarction. SPONSOR: Amorcyte, LLC (with Gary Schaer from Cardiology); IxCELL-DCM: A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study to evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of transendocardial injections of Ixmyelocel-T in Subjects with heart failure due to ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy. 

Deborah Katz, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy Graft Versus Host Disease Prophylaxis with a Bortezomib-Based Regimen without G-CSF Support for Patients Undergoing MUD Transplant: Evaluation of Engraftment Kinetics and Transplant Outcomes
Sasha Shafikhani, PhD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, exotoxins, wound infection, wound healing, innate immunity, microbiome shift in wound, apoptosis, cancer therapy

Parameswaran Venugopal, MD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy Actively enrolling patients in clinical trials in the area of lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.
Andrew Zloza, MD, PhD Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy Cancer immunotherapy, microbial-based cancer therapies (MBCTs), "bugs as drugs", cancer vaccines, immune-reconstituted patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse models, cancer immuno-nanoparticles