At the forefront of cancer drug development and treatment design

Using state-of-the-art experimental approaches in genomics, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, imaging, biochemistry, and animal modeling, the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics at Roswell Park is making breakthrough discoveries in new cancer therapies.

What we do

  • Identify novel molecular targets for therapeutic development
  • Characterize the mechanisms of action and preclinical development of novel drug candidates
  • Clinically translate in-house developed anti-cancer therapeutics
  • Develop mechanism-driven novel combination therapies

Our researchers collaborate extensively with each other, with other scientists at Roswell Park and elsewhere, and with partners in the pharmaceutical industry, to leverage expertise from a variety of disciplines.

We also participate in Roswell Park’s CCSG Developmental Therapeutics (DT) Program and Translational Research Groups (TRG) for specific cancer types, and the University at Buffalo (UB) graduate training programs — mainly, the Experimental Therapeutics (ET) program.

Dr. Gokul Das Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Spotlight: Developmental Therapeutics Research Program

How can we use new treatments to target cancer cells and reduce the body’s resistance?  Scientists across Roswell Park are studying how to develop and translate novel mechanism-driven anti-cancer therapeutics and therapeutic combinations. 

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Training the next generation of scientists

In addition to our research and community outreach, the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics 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.  

Dean Tang, PhD

“Our goal is, by employing state-of-the-art technologies and the most updated knowledge, to develop novel mechanism-driven anticancer therapeutics and therapeutic combinations.”

Fengzhi Li, PhD

2020 PanCan Grant Recipient: Fengzhi Li, PhD

A few common themes have guided the decisions of Fengzhi Li, PhD: Find meaning. Do good. Stay focused.

In fact, whether the hardship faced is pancreatic cancer or the coronavirus pandemic, his advice to others is, “If you have a goal – whatever the goal is – never give up. Persistence is the key for reaching your goal.”

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Recent publications

  • Wei L, Christensen SR, Fitzgerald ME, Graham J, Hutson ND, Zhang C, Huang Z, Hu Q, Zhan F, Xie J, Zhang J, Liu S, Remenyik E, Gellen E, Colegio OR, Bax M, Xu J, Lin H, Huss WJ, Foster BA, Paragh G. Ultradeep sequencing differentiates patterns of skin clonal mutations associated with sun-exposure status and skin cancer burden. Sci Adv. 2021;7(1). Epub 2021/02/02. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abd7703. PubMed PMID: 33523857; PMCID: PMC7775785.

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  • Zhang D, Hu Q, Liu X, Ji Y, Chao HP, Liu Y, Tracz A, Kirk J, Buonamici S, Zhu P, Wang J, Liu S, Tang DG. Intron retention is a hallmark and spliceosome represents a therapeutic vulnerability in aggressive prostate cancer. Nat Commun. 2020;11(1):2089. Epub 2020/05/01. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15815-7. PubMed PMID: 32350277; PMCID: PMC7190674.

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  • Venkat S, Tisdale AA, Schwarz JR, Alahmari AA, Maurer HC, Olive KP, Eng KH, Feigin ME. Alternative polyadenylation drives oncogenic gene expression in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Genome Res. 2020;30(3):347-60. Epub 2020/02/08. doi: 10.1101/gr.257550.119. PubMed PMID: 32029502; PMCID: PMC7111527.

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  • Li Q, Liu B, Chao HP, Ji Y, Lu Y, Mehmood R, Jeter C, Chen T, Moore JR, Li W, Liu C, Rycaj K, Tracz A, Kirk J, Calhoun-Davis T, Xiong J, Deng Q, Huang J, Foster BA, Gokhale A, Chen X, Tang DG. LRIG1 is a pleiotropic androgen receptor-regulated feedback tumor suppressor in prostate cancer. Nat Commun. 2019;10(1):5494. Epub 2019/12/04. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13532-4. PubMed PMID: 31792211; PMCID: PMC6889295.

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  • Mukhopadhyay UK, Oturkar CC, Adams C, Wickramasekera N, Bansal S, Medisetty R, Miller A, Swetzig WM, Silwal-Pandit L, Borresen-Dale AL, Creighton CJ, Park JH, Konduri SD, Mukhopadhyay A, Caradori A, Omilian A, Bshara W, Kaipparettu BA, Das GM. TP53 Status as a Determinant of Pro- vs Anti-Tumorigenic Effects of Estrogen Receptor-Beta in Breast Cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2019;111(11):1202-15. Epub 2019/04/17. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djz051. PubMed PMID: 30990221; PMCID: PMC6855950.

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  • Ramakrishnan S, Granger V, Rak M, Hu Q, Attwood K, Aquila L, Krishnan N, Osiecki R, Azabdaftari G, Guru K, Chatta G, Gueron G, McNally L, Ohm J, Wang J, Woloszynska A. Inhibition of EZH2 induces NK cell-mediated differentiation and death in muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Cell Death Differ. 2019;26(10):2100-14. Epub 2019/01/30. doi: 10.1038/s41418-019-0278-9. PubMed PMID: 30692641; PMCID: PMC6748105.

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  • Simon M, Van Meter M, Ablaeva J, Ke Z, Gonzalez RS, Taguchi T, De Cecco M, Leonova KI, Kogan V, Helfand SL, Neretti N, Roichman A, Cohen HY, Meer MV, Gladyshev VN, Antoch MP, Gudkov AV, Sedivy JM, Seluanov A, Gorbunova V. LINE1 Derepression in Aged Wild-Type and SIRT6-Deficient Mice Drives Inflammation. Cell Metab. 2019;29(4):871-85 e5. Epub 2019/03/12. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.02.014. PubMed PMID: 30853213; PMCID: PMC6449196.

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  • Kumar R, Bhat TA, Walsh EM, Chaudhary AK, O'Malley J, Rhim JS, Wang J, Morrison CD, Attwood K, Bshara W, Mohler JL, Yadav N, Chandra D. Cytochrome c Deficiency Confers Apoptosome and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in African-American Men with Prostate Cancer. Cancer Res. 2019;79(7):1353-68. Epub 2019/02/16. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-2383. PubMed PMID: 30765600; PMCID: PMC6445777.

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  • Yang L, Li Y, Bhattacharya A, Zhang Y. A recombinant human protein targeting HER2 overcomes drug resistance in HER2-positive breast cancer. Sci Transl Med. 2019;11(476). Epub 2019/01/25. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aav1620. PubMed PMID: 30674653; PMCID: PMC6409101.

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  • Li Q, Deng Q, Chao HP, Liu X, Lu Y, Lin K, Liu B, Tang GW, Zhang D, Tracz A, Jeter C, Rycaj K, Calhoun-Davis T, Huang J, Rubin MA, Beltran H, Shen J, Chatta G, Puzanov I, Mohler JL, Wang J, Zhao R, Kirk J, Chen X, Tang DG. Linking prostate cancer cell AR heterogeneity to distinct castration and enzalutamide responses. Nat Commun. 2018;9(1):3600. Epub 2018/09/08. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06067-7. PubMed PMID: 30190514; PMCID: PMC6127155.

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  • Tomida J, Takata KI, Bhetawal S, Person MD, Chao HP, Tang DG, Wood RD. FAM35A associates with REV7 and modulates DNA damage responses of normal and BRCA1-defective cells. EMBO J. 2018;37(12). Epub 2018/05/24. doi: 10.15252/embj.201899543. PubMed PMID: 29789392; PMCID: PMC6003645.

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  • Dick FA, Goodrich DW, Sage J, Dyson NJ. Non-canonical functions of the RB protein in cancer. Nat Rev Cancer. 2018;18(7):442-51. Epub 2018/04/26. doi: 10.1038/s41568-018-0008-5. PubMed PMID: 29692417; PMCID: PMC6693677.

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  • Yang L, Li Y, Bhattacharya A, Zhang Y. PEPD is a pivotal regulator of p53 tumor suppressor. Nat Commun. 2017;8(1):2052. Epub 2017/12/14. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02097-9. PubMed PMID: 29233996; PMCID: PMC5727116.

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  • Feigin ME, Garvin T, Bailey P, Waddell N, Chang DK, Kelley DR, Shuai S, Gallinger S, McPherson JD, Grimmond SM, Khurana E, Stein LD, Biankin AV, Schatz MC, Tuveson DA. Recurrent noncoding regulatory mutations in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Nat Genet. 2017;49(6):825-33. Epub 2017/05/10. doi: 10.1038/ng.3861. PubMed PMID: 28481342; PMCID: PMC5659388.

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  • Liu C, Liu R, Zhang D, Deng Q, Liu B, Chao HP, Rycaj K, Takata Y, Lin K, Lu Y, Zhong Y, Krolewski J, Shen J, Tang DG. MicroRNA-141 suppresses prostate cancer stem cells and metastasis by targeting a cohort of pro-metastasis genes. Nat Commun. 2017;8:14270. Epub 2017/01/24. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14270. PubMed PMID: 28112170; PMCID: PMC5264244.

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  • Ku SY, Rosario S, Wang Y, Mu P, Seshadri M, Goodrich ZW, Goodrich MM, Labbe DP, Gomez EC, Wang J, Long HW, Xu B, Brown M, Loda M, Sawyers CL, Ellis L, Goodrich DW. Rb1 and Trp53 cooperate to suppress prostate cancer lineage plasticity, metastasis, and antiandrogen resistance. Science. 2017;355(6320):78-83. Epub 2017/01/07. doi: 10.1126/science.aah4199. PubMed PMID: 28059767; PMCID: PMC5367887.

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Pamela Hershberger, PhD

Women in Science: Pamela Hershberger, PhD

In 2019, Pamela Hershberger, PhD, came upon a stunningly significant finding in her research lab.

“Patients with higher vitamin D levels continued to respond better and for a significantly longer time with the medications, compared to patients with lower or deficient levels of Vitamin D. It was a very exciting moment, seeing that it might be possible to extend responses with an easy-to-use, inexpensive vitamin.”

Meet Dr. HershbergerRead the Research

In the news

Contact us 

Susan Bechtel
Department Administrator
Phone: 716-845-5853
Fax: 716-845-8857