sealPurdue Cancer Experts

Cell growth and differentiation

Robert L. Geahlen

Associate head, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Professor, medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy
(765) 494-1457

Studies the role of protein tyrosine kinases in the regulation of cell proliferation. Designs novel protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors as possible chemotherapeutic agents.

Michael S. Kinch

Assistant professor, basic medical sciences
(765) 496-2372

Studies the changes in cell adhesion that allow metastatic cancer cells to break free from the primary tumor and migrate to secondary sites in the body. Designing and testing inhibitors of cancer cell metastasis that target sites of cell adhesion.


Kayann W. Burke

Assistant professor, pharmacy practice, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
(317) 274-2832

Has expertise in immunosuppressants and complications in drug delivery to children with cancer. Research focuses on reducing toxicities of chemotherapy in children and on supportive-care issues. Is a member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Society of Hospital Pharmacists and American Pharmaceutical Association. Has been a clinical pharmacist with Riley Hospital for Children, Indianapolis, and Women & Children's Hospital, Charleston, W.Va.

Pamela L. Crowell

Assistant professor, biology, Indiana University- Purdue University at Indianapolis
(317) 278-1144

Does research in cancer prevention and chemotherapy, especially pancreas and breast cancer. Is member of Indiana University Cancer Center. Has received grants from the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society and American Institute for Cancer Research.

Children with cancer

Kayann W. Burke

For biography, see "Chemotherapy

Detection and diagnostics

Donald E. Bergstrom

Walther Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
(765) 494-6275

Research is directed towards re-engineering DNA for use as tools in biomedical research and genetic-based diagnostics. Has discovered how to construct modified nucleobases that can be used to create probes for the detection of DNA sequences found in genetic diseases, cancer and pathogenic infections. Developing a comprehensive diagnostic system that will be capable of detecting virtually all of the significant genetic mutations that occur in cancer. Is a Fellow of the National Institutes of Health.

Eva M. Sevick-Muraca

Associate professor, chemical engineering
(765) 496-2377

Has developed a process called fluorescence lifetime imaging, which can be used to produce images of the biochemical makeup of the body's tissues. May be used in the earliest stages of disease, when certain biochemical changes take place in tissues even before structural alterations can be seen under a microscope. Though it hasn't yet been tried on human tissue, the technique shows promise for detecting cancer, and could be used to determine whether a tumor is benign or malignant.

Diet and cancer

Martha A. Belury

Assistant professor, nutrition
(765) 494-0302

Is expert on diet and cancer prevention; dietary fat and health; and polyunsaturated fats. Research focuses on how the dietary fat in foods such as cooked meats and processed dairy products affects cancer.

Laura J. Jenski

Professor, biology, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
(317) 274-0590

Is a pioneer in the area of dietary effects on immune system function. Examining how omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (abundant in fish oil) induce changes in cancer cell membranes and increase recognition and destruction of cancer by the immune system.

Jon A. Story

Professor, foods and nutrition
(765) 494-6843

Studies the effects of dietary fiber on bile acid excretion, which relates to cholesterol levels in the blood and colon-cancer risk. Is a member of several national committees that deal with human nutrition policy.

Drug development

Richard F. Borch, M.D.

Head, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and
Molecular Pharmacology
(765) 494-1403

Research interests include chemical approaches to the selective reduction of anti-cancer drug toxicity and the synthesis of novel anti-cancer agents. Has developed several agents that target a specific feature of cancer cell metabolism to improve tumor vs. host selectivity. Is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, American Association for Advancement of Science.

Experimental treatments

Robert L. Geahlen

For biography, see "Cell growth and differentiation"

David Waters

Assistant professor, veterinary clinical sciences
(765) 494-9271

Research focuses on naturally occurring tumors in dogs as models of human cancer. Looking at bone tumors in dogs as a pre-clinical model to evaluate anti-metastatic therapy and noninvasive imaging techniques. Studying canine prostate cancer to further understand the factors that regulate the progression to two lethal phenotypes. Testing new anti-cancer agents and the development of metastatic models of human cancer.

Multidrug resistance

Jerry McLaughlin

Professor, medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy
(765) 494-1455

Has isolated anti-tumor agents from plants using bioassays developed in his laboratory. Has discovered a series of compounds from the pawpaw tree with anti-cancer properties. Some of the compounds have shown potential in laboratory cultures in treating certain kinds of multidrug-resistant tumors.

Cynthia V. Stauffacher

Associate professor, biological sciences
(765) 494-4937

Uses X-ray crystallography to identify structures of molecules that may serve as targets for chemotherapy, including the multidrug resistance gene P-glycoprotein, which is expressed in transformed cells and is responsible for the transport of many chemotherapeutic agents out of their target cells.

Structural biology

Philip S. Low

Joseph F. Foster Professor of Chemistry
(765) 494-5273

Directs research on the molecular organization and function of biological membranes. Has received two patents to use water-soluble vitamins, including folic acid and biotin, to deliver molecules into cells. The method can be used to insert drugs, genes, proteins, antibodies, enzymes, lipids or toxins -- molecules that normally would not easily gain entry into a cell. Has published more than 135 articles on the biochemistry of cell membranes and cancer.

Cynthia V. Stauffacher

For biography, see "Multidrug resistance"

Viruses and cancer

Alan M. Friedman

Assistant professor, biological sciences
(765) 494-5911

Uses crystallography, biochemistry and genetics to study the structural biology of infection, immunity and aging. Studies the structure of papillomavirus capsids with the aim of understanding how infection with this virus can lead to cervical cancer in humans. Also studies how cellular transformation is associated with changes in cell's membrane structure.

Peixuan Guo

Associate professor, molecular virology
(765) 494-7561

Is an expert on viruses, viral diseases, genetic engineering and vaccine development. Also is studying virus assembly to understand ways to construct a system for gene delivery for cancer therapy. Editor of international journal Seminars in Virology.

David A. Sanders

Assistant professor, biological sciences
(765) 494-6453

Studies retroviruses that cause leukemias in mice to understand how virus enters the cells. Working to determine whether membrane fusion and virus entry can be inhibited by specific reagents. Results of the studies may be applied to help deter the spread of feline leukemias and human T-cell leukemias that are caused by infections by retroviruses.

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