Using light and heat in clinical cancer therapies

The Department of Cell Stress Biology at Roswell Park studies the exploitation of cellular stress, especially oxidative and thermal stress, as a target mechanism of clinical therapies.


Photodynamic therapy center in the world


Major research labs

What we do

  • Define molecular and cellular stress mechanisms that might be exploited to aid in diagnosis or treatment of malignant disease;
  • Develop novel cancer treatment strategies based on these mechanisms;
  • Bring treatments to clinical fruition by facilitating interactions with clinicians and basic scientists; and
  • Provide a training ground for these novel treatment approaches.

Our highly multidisciplinary team has expertise in chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, biology, molecular biology, immunology and numerous clinical disciplines.

Dr. Sandra Gollnick

Spotlight: Photodynamic Therapy Center

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) was developed at Roswell Park, and our PDT Center is a worldwide leader in its use for treating many types of cancer.

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Oxidative Stress Group

Oxidative stress is implicated in the etiology of many human diseases, including cancer. It is also the mechanism by which cancer treatment modalities, such as radiation therapy or photodynamic therapy, exert their anti-tumor effects.

Through the study of signal transduction, cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, mitochondrial and/or nuclear DNA damage, mitochondrial dysfunction and genetic instability, the Oxidative Stress Group concentrates on the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS), generated during oxidative stress, in the activation of oncogenic pathways and the response of cancer cells to specific stress environments.

Thermal Stress Group

Another physiologically relevant stress is the thermal response accompanying a natural fever and the heat shock proteins that are associated with an elevation in body temperature.

The Thermal Stress Group focuses on the interactions among heat shock proteins, the thermal element of fever and the immune response, with the major goal of developing heat shock protein cancer vaccines as well as other thermally activated adjuvants.

Cell Stress & Biophysical Therapies

Spotlight: Cancer Stress Biology Research Program

How can we use the principles of biophysics – like heat and light – to treat cancer? The Cancer Stress Biology Research Program at Roswell Park is determined to find out.

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Unmatched expertise

Specializing in: DNA damage and repair, photodynamic therapy, thermal and hypoxic stress and immune modulation.

Research interests: Drug discovery approaches; gene discovery; molecular targets for cancer treatment.

Shared Resources

Drug Discovery Core

Screening chemical libraries in a variety of readout systems for new prospective diagnostic and therapeutic compounds and research tools.

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Recent publications

Training the next generation of scientists

In addition to our research and community outreach, the Department of Cell Stress Biology is actively involved in hands-on teaching with Master’s and PhD students in our highly competitive graduate studies program.

Our multidisciplinary education model allows students a unique immersive experience, preparing them for successful careers as independent investigators. 

Contact us

Mary Morgan
Executive Assistant to Dr. Gudkov
Phone: 716-845-3326
Fax: 716-845-3944

Bruce Specht
Senior Department Administrator
Phone: 716-845-1065
Fax: 716-845-3944