At the forefront of cancer therapy development and treatment design

How can we use new treatments to target cancer cells and prevent therapy resistance?

Genomics and genetics. Molecular and cellular biology. Biochemistry. Imaging. It’s all part of learning how new drugs — and new combinations of drugs — can treat and prevent cancer.

From discovery and development to translation and clinical trials, the Developmental Therapeutics Program at Roswell Park is making breakthrough discoveries in new cancer therapies.

Our uniquely collaborative team includes scientists and physicians from 10 oncology specialties, working together to unravel the complexities of cancer-signaling drivers, hormone-driven cancers, and resistance mechanisms.

Publications in CY 2020


Extramural funding


Program leaders

Dr. Tang, Chair of Pharmacology & Therapeutics and an expert on cancer stem cells and prostate cancer, primarily focuses on basic science-driven therapy development efforts in the program.

Dr. Puzanov, Director of the Center for Early Phase Clinical Trials (CEPCT) and an expert on melanoma immunotherapy, facilitates clinical translation and clinical trials.

Together, they work closely to develop and implement the strategic plan, execute research activities including seminars, retreats, and pilot project funding, and prioritize and facilitate therapeutic development within the Developmental Therapeutics Program and across Roswell Park.

Program goals & aims

The primary goal of Developmental Therapeutics research at Roswell Park is developing and translating novel mechanism-driven anti-cancer therapeutics and therapeutic regimens.

Our highly collaborative, interdisciplinary team focuses on four specific aims:

  • Aim 1: Facilitate clinical translation of in-house drugs that target critical cancer drivers
  • Aim 2: Identify novel therapeutic targets and therapeutic combinations
  • Aim 3: Target and overcome therapeutic resistance
  • Aim 4: Develop novel preclinical models and conduct innovative clinical trials

A special focus for our Developmental Therapeutics program is trials that target hormone refractory breast and prostate cancer – conditions that are of particular importance for Western New York.

Early Phase Clinical Trials

Meet #TeamRoswell: Dr. Igor Puzanov

Dr. Igor Puzanov

“When I can cure patients, I am the happiest.”

Meet Dr. Puzanov

Through our Center for Early Phase Clinical Trials (CEPCT), we bring scientific findings from the Developmental Therapeutics team and other CCSG programs into the clinic.

The CEPCT is Roswell Park’s resource for:

  • Laboratory-based drug discoveries
  • Preclinical efficacy studies
  • PK/PD modeling and pharmacometric studies
  • IND-enabling toxicology
  • IND submission support
  • Clinical trial conduct and management

This team coordinates and implements complex phase I/II trials from other CCSG programs that have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Disease site agnostic
  • “Basket trials” involving multiple different tumor types
  • Trials involving adoptive immune cell therapy (excluding hematopoietic stem cell transplantation) due to the complexity of multidisciplinary planning and management
  • Trials with unusual complexity in implementation, administration or regulation (e.g., the trials with Cuban vaccines and immunomodulatory agents).

In the past three years, CEPCT has translated recent preclinical findings into 18 ongoing clinical trials by Developmental Therapeutics Program members (7 in Phase I) and 11 trials in collaboration with other CCSG programs (4 in Phase I).

Research highlights

Dr. Dean Tang reviews a slide

Aggressive Prostate Cancer Marked by Abnormal RNA Splicing, Study Reveals

The team set out to learn how prostate cancer cells differ from normal, healthy prostate cells, in particular how those cancerous cells transcribe their genes. The researchers focused on alternative splicing, the process by which a DNA sequence is transcribed into RNA forms in an abnormal manner compared to healthy cells, resulting in tumors.

Read the press releaseSee the science

Center for Immunotherapy Test Tubes

Use of Pembrolizumab Provided Long-Term Benefits in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma, 10-Year Look Shows

This retrospective analysis of three randomized clinical trials (KEYNOTE-001, KEYNOTE-002 and KEYNOTE-006) involved 1,558 patients with advanced melanoma and known BRAF tumor status (BRAF wild-type or BRAF V600E/K-mutant melanoma) who had all been treated with pembrolizumab, some of whom had undergone prior treatment with BRAF inhibitors with or without MEK inhibitors.

Read the press releaseSee the science

Education & training

We’re committed to training the next generation of basic and clinician scientists to develop expertise in all phases of drug development. Trainees in Roswell Park’s Experimental Therapeutics PhD track study closely with Developmental Therapeutics program members and participate in all phases of basic and translational research.

Contact us

Sue Bechtel
Program Administrator
Phone: 716-845-5853