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.

Research highlights

Image from Dr. Michael Feign research study

Alternative polyadenylation drives oncogenic gene expression in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Genome Research
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael Feigin

Read the Research Meet Dr. Feigin

A figure from a research journal

A mitochondrial unfolded protein response inhibitor suppresses prostate cancer growth in mice via HSP60

Journal of Clinical Investigation
Principal Investigator: Dr. Dhyan Chandra

Read the Research Meet Dr. Chandra

Image from Dr. Tang research study

Intron retention is a hallmark and spliceosome represents a therapeutic vulnerability in aggressive prostate cancer

Nature Communications
Principal Investigator: Dr. Dean Tang

Read the Research Meet Dr. Tang

Image from Dr. Woloszynska research study

Inhibition of EZH2 induces NK cell-mediated differentiation and death in muscle-invasive bladder cancer

Cell Death and Differentiation
Principal Investigator: Dr. Anna Woloszynska

Read the ResearchMeet Dr. Woloszynska

  • Inigo J, Kumar R, Chandra D. Targeting the mitochondrial unfolded protein response in cancer: opportunities and challenges. Inigo, Joseph R. et al. Trends in Cancer, Volume 7, Issue 12, 1050 - 1053

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  • Venkat S, Alahmari A, Feigin M. Drivers of Gene Expression Dysregulation in Pancreatic Cancer. Venkat, Swati et al. Trends in Cancer, Volume 7, Issue 7, 594 - 605

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  • Li F, Aljahdali I, Zhang R, Nastiuk K, Krolewski J, Ling X. Kidney cancer biomarkers and targets for therapeutics: survivin (BIRC5), XIAP, MCL-1, HIF1, HIF2, NRF2, MDM2, MDM4, p53, KRAS and AKT in renal cell carcinoma. J Exp Clin Cancer Res 40, 254 (2021).

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  • Zhang Y. The root cause of drug resistance in HER2-positive breast cancer and the therapeutic approaches to overcoming the resistance. Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Volume 218, 2021, 107677, ISSN 0163-7258,

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  • O'Malley J, Kumar R, Inigo J, Yadav N, Chandra D. Mitochondrial Stress Response and Cancer. Trends in Cancer, Volume 6, Issue 8, 2020, Pages 688-701, ISSN 2405-8033.

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  • Venkat S, Tisdale A, Schwarz JR, Alahmari A, Maurer HC, Olive KP, Eng K, Feigin M. Alternative polyadenylation drives oncogenic gene expression in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Genome Res. 2020 Mar;30(3):347-360. doi: 10.1101/gr.257550.119. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

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  • Cornwell A, Feigin M. Unintended Effects of GPCR-Targeted Drugs on the Cancer Phenotype. Cornwell, Abigail C. et al. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, Volume 41, Issue 12, 1006 - 1022

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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 D. Intron retention is a hallmark and spliceosome represents a therapeutic vulnerability in aggressive prostate. Zhang, D., Hu, Q., Liu, X. et al. Intron retention is a hallmark and spliceosome represents a therapeutic vulnerability in aggressive prostate cancer. Nat Commun 11, 2089 (2020).

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  • Kumar R, Bhat T, Walsh EM, Chaudhary A, O'Malley J, Rhim JS, Wang J, Morrison C, Attwood K, Bshara W, Mohler J, Yadav N, Chandra D. Cytochrome c Deficiency Confers Apoptosome and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in African-American Men with Prostate Cancer. Cancer Res 1 April 2019; 79 (7): 1353–1368.

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  • Mukhopadhyay UK, Oturkar C, 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 G. TP53 Status as a Determinant of Pro- vs Anti-Tumorigenic Effects of Estrogen Receptor-Beta in Breast Cancer. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 111, Issue 11, November 2019, Pages 1202–1215,

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  • Knudsen E, Pruitt S, Hershberger P, Witkiewicz A, Goodrich D. Cell Cycle and Beyond: Exploiting New RB1 Controlled Mechanisms for Cancer Therapy. Knudsen, Erik S. et al. Trends in Cancer, Volume 5, Issue 5, 308 - 324

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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 26, 2100–2114 (2019).

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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. Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 218, (107677), (2021).

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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 B, Gokhale A, Chen X, Tang D. LRIG1 is a pleiotropic androgen receptor-regulated feedback tumor suppressor in prostate cancer. Nat Commun 10, 5494 (2019).

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  • Kumar S, Inigo J, Kumar R, Chaudhary A, O'Malley J, Balachandar S, Wang J, Attwood K, Yadav N, Hochwald S, Wang X, Chandra D. Nimbolide reduces CD44 positive cell population and induces mitochondrial apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells. Cancer Letters, Volume 413, 2018, Pages 82-93, ISSN 0304-3835, doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2017.10.029.

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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 J, Wang J, Zhao R, Kirk J, Chen X, Tang D. Linking prostate cancer cell AR heterogeneity to distinct castration and enzalutamide responses. Nat Commun 9, 3600 (2018).

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  • Zhang D, Zhao S, Li X, Kirk J, Tang D. Prostate Luminal Progenitor Cells in Development and Cancer. Zhang, Dingxiao et al. Trends in Cancer, Volume 4, Issue 11, 769 - 783.

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  • Feigin M, 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 49, 825–833 (2017).

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  • Ku S, Rosario S, Wang Y, Mu P, Seshadri M, Goodrich Z, Goodrich M, Labbe D, Gomez E, Wang J, Long H, Xu B, Brown M, Loda M, Sawyers C, Ellis L, Goodrich D. Rb1 and Trp53 cooperate to suppress prostate cancer lineage plasticity, metastasis, and antiandrogen resistance. Science (2017), Vol 355, Issue 6320 pp. 78-83

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  • Yang L, Li Y, Bhattacharya A, Zhang Y. PEPD is a pivotal regulator of p53 tumor suppressor. Nat Commun 8, 2052 (2017).

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  • Liu C, Liu N, Zhang D, Deng Q, Liu B, Chao HP, Rycaj K, Takata Y, Lin K, Lu Y, Zhong Y, Krolewski J, Shen J, Tang D. MicroRNA-141 suppresses prostate cancer stem cells and metastasis by targeting a cohort of pro-metastasis genes. Nat Commun 8, 14270 (2017).

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  • Atanassov B, Mohan RD, Lan X, Kuang X, Lu Y, Lin K, McIvor E, Li W, Zhang Y, Florens L, Byrum SD, Mackintosh SG, Calhoun-Davis T, Koutelou E, Wang L, Tang D, Tackett AJ, Washburn MP, Workman JL, Dent SYR. ATXN7L3 and ENY2 Coordinate Activity of Multiple H2B Deubiquitinases Important for Cellular Proliferation and Tumor Growth. Atanassov, Boyko S. et al. Molecular Cell, Volume 62, Issue 4, 558 - 571.

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  • Zhang D, Park D, Zhong Y, Lu Y, Rycaj K, Gong S, Chen X, Liu X, Chao H-P, Whitney P, Calhoun-Davis T, Takata Y, Shen J, Iyer VR, Tang D. Stem cell and neurogenic gene-expression profiles link prostate basal cells to aggressive prostate cancer. Nat Commun 7, 10798 (2016).

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  • Chen X, Li Q, Liu X, Liu C, Liu R, Rycaj K, Zhang D, Liu B, Jeter C, Calhoun-Davis T, Lin K, Lu Y, Chao HP, Shen J, Tang D. Defining a Population of Stem-like Human Prostate Cancer Cells That Can Generate and Propagate Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer. Clin Cancer Res 1 September 2016; 22 (17): 4505–4516.

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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.  

Hannah Calkins - Hershberger Lab presenting thesis

Hannah Calkins (Hershberger Lab) won the People’s Choice Award in the 2022 Three Minute Thesis competition at the University at Buffalo. Her presentation was entitled, “Combating Treatment Resistance in Lung Cancer.”

Sarah Athans - Woloszynska lab, presenting thesis

Sarah Athans (Woloszynska Lab) presented her thesis work in a poster presentation at the 2022 AACR Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

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

Abby Cornwell (Feigin Lab) was awarded an F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health.

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. 

Learn more

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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.”

Contact us 

Susan Bechtel
Department Administrator
Phone: 716-845-5853
Fax: 716-845-8857
Email: Susan.Bechtel@RoswellPark.org