Today is Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019

Department of

Radiation Oncology - Takiar & Wise-Draper Laboratory

Two ladies in doctor jackets

The Takiar and Wise-Draper co-led laboratory is interested in mechanisms of resistance to various anti-cancer therapy. Dr. Wise-Draper is a medical oncologist focused on experimental therapeutics for the treatment of head and neck cancer and other solid tumor malignancies.  Dr. Takiar is a radiation oncologist with a clinical focus on treating patients with head and neck cancer.  As such, the Takiar & Wise-Draper group uses head and neck cancer as a model system to better understand how tumors may respond to treatment including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy, and the mechanisms by which tumors recur despite aggressive treatment.  The laboratory also participates in the translational elements of clinical trials in order to better understand the basic biology behind the outcomes being observed in the clinic.

The overall goal of the laboratory is to better understand how tumor cells evade or resist cell death by anti-cancer therapy.  If these mechanisms were better understood, then potentially clinical treatment could be better tailored to each patient. 

One focus of the laboratory is on identifying mechanisms of adaptive resistance to radiation therapy.  For this project, we use Reverse Phase Protein Microarray Analysis (RPPA) as well as cellular and mouse models to try and replicate the human host.  Select therapies are then tested alone and in combination with ionizing radiation in a strategic manner to identify new combinations of treatment that may be more effective than those currently available.

Another focus of the laboratory is on better understanding the mechanisms underlying resistance to immunotherapy, including T-cell dysfunction, and the potential role of NK cells and the microenvironment as well as contributions of a specific oncogene, such as DEK.  Currently, immunotherapy is indicated for patients in the recurrent or metastatic setting for head and neck cancer, and although those who respond to treatment have terrific outcomes, the majority of patients do not respond. The goals of this project are to be able to better identify patients most likely to respond to treatment and to understand how to turn a non-responder into a responder to potentially design subsequent human trials that will improve immunotherapy effectiveness.

Interested in working with our team? Our lab is currently recruiting graduate students, post-doctoral fellows (with potential for T32 funding), and a research assistant. Please contact us!