Be on the forefront of drug development and treatment design

Investigate novel molecular targets for therapeutic intervention. Study the mechanisms of action and preclinical development of novel drugs. Optimize the use of existing drugs through combination therapy, repurposing, and imaging. Identify patient sub-populations and cancer types most likely to respond favorably to new approaches.

When you choose the Experimental Therapeutics PhD track at Roswell Park, you’ll conduct basic and translational research in the areas of cancer biology, drug development, and innovative cancer treatment.

We’re looking for a background in the sciences such as chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, pharmacology, and/or bioinformatics. Some prior research experience is desirable but not required.

Track highlights

A diverse group of collaborative faculty members conduct research in the following broadly defined areas relevant to cancer therapeutics:

  • Identification of novel molecular targets for therapeutic intervention
  • Characterizing the mechanisms of action and preclinical development of novel drugs
  • Optimizing the use of existing drugs through combination therapy, re-purposing, imaging, and identification of patient sub-populations most likely to respond to treatment

Research questions are addressed using state-of-the-art experimental approaches in genomics, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, imaging, biochemistry, and animal modeling.

Student accomplishments

Tatiane de Silva Fernandes — ET PhD student

Tatiane Da Silva Fernandes

Tatiane presented a poster at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on her work in Dr. Anna Bianchi-Smiraglia’s lab.

Wen Jess Li — ET PhD student

Wen (Jess) Li

Jess published a new review entitled “MicroRNA-34a, Prostate Cancer Stem Cells, and Therapeutic Development” in Cancers, based on her work in Dr. Dean Tang’s lab.

Read the full text

Kathryn Maraszek - ET PhD program

Kathryn Maraszek

Katie passed her qualifying exam and is now advanced to candidacy. She will continue her studies on opioid signaling in pancreatic cancer in Dr. Michael Feigin’s lab.

Abby Cornwell - Feigin Lab, Dept. Pharmacology&Therapeutics LP

Abigail Cornwell

Abby was awarded an F31 NIH Fellowship for her work on regulation of the pancreatic cancer microenvironment in Dr. Michael Feigin’s lab.

Hannah Calkins — ET PhD student

Hannah Calkins, PhD

Hannah was the People’s Choice Award Winner at the University at Buffalo 3 Minute Thesis Competition, based on her work in Dr. Pam Hershberger’s lab.

  • Unintended Effects of GPCR-Targeted Drugs on the Cancer Phenotype. Cornwell AC, Feigin ME (DT). Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2020 DEC 01; 41(12):1006-1022. DOI: 10.1016/ 2020 Oct 22. PubMed
  • Targeting the mitochondrial unfolded protein response in cancer: opportunities and challenges. Inigo JR, Kumar R, Chandra D (DT).  Trends Cancer. 2021 DEC 01; 7(12):1050-1053. DOI: 10.1016/j.trecan.2021.08.008. 2021 Sep 24. PubMed 
  • A nanotherapeutic strategy to target drug-tolerant cells and overcome EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor resistance in lung cancer. Shaurova T, Yan L, Su Y, Rich LJ, Vincent-Chong VK, Calkins H, Pokharel S (CSB), Petkovich M, Seshadri M (CSB), Wu Y, Hershberger PA (DT). Cancer Commun (Lond). 2023 JAN 24; . DOI: 10.1002/cac2.12401. 2023 Jan 24. PubMed 
  • Lorazepam Stimulates IL6 Production and Is Associated with Poor Survival Outcomes in Pancreatic Cancer. Cornwell AC, Tisdale, AA, Swati, V, Maraszek, KE, Alahmari AA, George A, Attwood K, George M, Kempinski D,  Franco-Barraza J, Seshadri M, Parker MD,  Cortes Gomez E, Fountzilas C, Cukierman E, Steele NG, Feigin ME (DT). Clin Cancer Res (2023) 29 (18): 3793–3812. 2023 Sept 15. AARC
  • Biological differences underlying sex and gender disparities in bladder cancer: current synopsis and future directions. Doshi B, Athans SR, Woloszynska A. Oncogenesis 12, 44 (2023). 5 Sept 2023.Oncogenesis


Additional information about our research can be found on our individual faculty pages.

I began the Experimental Therapeutics PhD program at UB/Roswell Park in 2011. The program is challenging, but extremely rewarding. The knowledge, experience and relationships that I gained during my time in the program had a major influence on my life and have led to an exciting career in cancer research that I love.
Mark Long, PhD
Biomedical Informatics

Program of study

19 credit hours
Course Code Course Name Credits
RPG501 Integrated Cancer Sciences I 4
RPG502 Integrated Cancer Sciences II 4
STA527 Statistical Analysis I 4
RPG504 Responsible Conduct of Research 1
RPG601 First-Year Journal Club 2
RPG514 Independent Study 4
19 credit hours
Course Code Course Name Credits
RPG503 Integrated Cancer Sciences III 4
RPG543 Tools and Models of Molecular Oncology 3
RPG571 Current Topics 2
RPG573 Graduate Seminar 1
RPG608 Doctoral Research and if needed electives 9
19 credit hours
Course Code Course Name Credits
RPG571 Current Topics 2
RPG573 Graduate Seminar 1
RPG603 Basics in Grantsmanship I 1
RPG608 Doctoral Research and if needed electives 11
9 credit hours
Course Code Course Name Credits
RPG573 Graduate Seminar 1
RPG571 Current Topics 2
RPG608 Doctoral Research and if needed electives 6
Course Code Course Name Credits
RPG608 Graduate Research 1, each semester
  Graduate Seminar (attend, no registration needed)  

Other training activities

ET Seminar: Trainees participate in a weekly, mentored seminar series to promote excellence in scientific communication. After each presentation, trainees receive oral and written critiques from faculty and students.

Lunch with external speakers: The ET Track organizes several lectures per year delivered by prominent, external scientists. Trainees have the opportunity to meet with these speakers to discuss science, get career advice, and promote collaborations and networking.

Dave Lecture: Students in the ET Track select a highly impactful scientist to deliver the annual Dave Memorial Lecture. Students coordinate and organize all aspects of the guest’s visit. Recent Dave Memorial Lecturers include M. Celeste Simon, PhD (2017), Susan B. Horwitz, PhD (2018), Elaine R. Mardis, PhD (2019), Cigall Kadoch, PhD (2022), Ashani Weeraratna, PhD (2023).

How to apply

If you wish to apply after the deadline, please contact before submitting an application.

Contact us

Dean Tang, PhD
Professor of Oncology
Chair, Experimental Therapeutics Track
Chair, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Co-Director, Experimental Therapeutics CCSG Program
Michael Feigin, PhD
Associate Professor of Oncology
Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics


Experimental Therapeutics Track
Attn: Jessica Bower
Center for Genetics & Pharmacology
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
Elm and Carlton Streets
Buffalo, NY 14263-0001

Telephone: 716-845-1443
Fax: 716-845-8857