I have a research interest in the epidemiology and genetics of cancer. We are currently studying ways to use genetic knowledge to improve risk assessment and therapy for cancer, incorporating genetics into clinical trials.
My main research focus is on the genetic epidemiology of pancreatic cancer. I am currently working to identify genetic mutations and polymorphisms that may impact risk for pancreatic cancer at an early age, a project funded by a K07 award from the National Cancer Institute. This project constitutes studying variations in DNA repair pathway genes, genes that predispose to pancreatitis, and family cancer syndrome genes in a large database developed at Mayo through the Pancreatic Cancer SPORE. By learning who may at risk for pancreatic cancer, especially at a younger age, we hope to develop targeted screening and prevention strategies to decrease mortality from this aggressive disease.
I am principal investigator for a multicenter clinical trial for metatstaic pancreatic cancer using gemcitabine and a novel agent (17-AAG). In this study, we are also incorporating several translational studies to understand more about how these treatments affect patients and their cancer. Among these are pharmacogenetics of gemcitabine metabolzing genes and collecting and analyzing circulating tumor cells from patients.
Other clinical trials include:
- A multicenter study on small bowel adenocarcinoma, using the UGT1A1 polymorphism to determine the appropriate dose of chemotherapy.
- A phase I study to determine the optimal dose of FOLFIRI (5-FU, irinotecan, leucovorin) for each UGT1A1 genotype.
My clinical focus is on care for patients with gastrointestinal malignancies and malignant melanoma.