Research and Labs

The Brekken Laboratory

The Brekken laboratory is located in the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research and studies tumor-host interactions with a particular emphasis on extracellular matrix (ECM) and angiogenesis. The biology of metastasis is the central focus for the lab. The lab studies how angiogenesis and ECM remodeling are key components of the metastatic cascade. Current projects are focused on the function of matricellular proteins (e.g., SPARC and fibulin-5) as regulators of ECM remodeling and angiogenesis.

Another major area of study in the lab is the development and evaluation of novel therapy for cancer with a particular focus on anti-angiogenic strategies. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a primary stimulant of blood vessel growth in tumors and as such is a relevant target for anti-angiogenic intervention. Currently we are studying the mechanism of anti-VEGF therapy and how inhibition of VEGF activity affects the tumor microenvironment.

The Dellinger Laboratory

The Dellinger laboratory studies the development of the lymphatic vasculature and diseases caused by errors in the development of lymphatic vessels, including Gorham-Stout disease (GSD) and Lymphatic Malformation (LM).

Valve dysfunction and inadequate or excessive growth of lymphatic vessels can impair the ability of the lymphatic network to maintain tissue fluid homeostasis. This can cause lymphatic fluid to accumulate in limbs (lymphedema), the pleural cavity (chylothorax), or in the peritoneal cavity (chylous ascites). Unfortunately, individuals with lymphatic defects have limited therapeutic options and most therapies are palliative in nature. This has fueled intense research efforts to identify the molecular pathways governing the development of the lymphatic vasculature so that new therapies can be developed to treat patients with these devastating defects.

The Ligorio Laboratory

The mission of the Ligorio laboratory is to understand the fundamental questions in cancer biology, such as tumor initiation, progression, and response to therapy, through state-of-the-art experimentation, fruitful collaborations, and above all, out-of-the-box thinking to develop novel, safer, and more effective therapies to win the fight against cancer.

Current projects include uncovering tumor architecture, understanding tumor heterogeneity, and personalizing PDAC management.