Januario E. Castro, M.D., has expertise in translational research and early-stage therapy development applied to hematologic malignancies with emphasis on cellular and stem cell therapy and gene immunotherapy. Dr. Castro focuses on translational research applied to the biology of cancer immunotherapy, discovery and optimization of novel antigens that can be used for cellular therapy, RNA splicing as a mechanism of gene and antigen diversity in cancer, and models of artificial intelligence applied to immunotherapy.
- Cellular therapy for hematological cancer. Dr. Castro's lab has extensive experience conducting leading-edge research and clinical trials in cellular therapy. The goal is to develop better, more patient-friendly therapies for cancers including acute and chronic leukemias and lymphomas.
- Cellular therapy for solid tumors. In collaboration with oncologist Mitesh J. Borad, M.D., and physician Karen S. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., both at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Castro is working to develop new therapeutic targets for pancreatic cancer and breast cancer using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cells.
- Immune system response. The lab is identifying novel markers at different time points during whole-cell disease therapies (hematological malignances and solid tumors) to help fight cancer with new mechanisms.
- Early detection of side effects. Dr. Castro's lab is developing new biotechnologies to better monitor patients undergoing cellular therapies, with the goal of improving early detection and management of side effects to reduce hospital admissions.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning models applied to immuno-oncology. Clinical prediction models are usually based on multiple variables, and sometimes it's not feasible to identify which characteristics discriminate better between two sets of patients. Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence techniques that can be defined as the scientific study that makes computers learns from data in order to discover knowledge from them. Machine learning also has the particular advantage of recognizing subtle patterns in complex datasets by creating a decision boundary known as a hyperplane.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Castro's translational research is directly focused on high impacts for patient care. His projects are devoted to making the latest clinical trials and scientific platforms available to patients at Mayo Clinic.
- Recipient, Research Award, Gateway Foundation, 2008-2012
- Recipient, Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08), National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute, 2004-2009
- Recipient, Young Investigator Award, American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2004-2005
- Recipient, Junior Faculty Award, UC San Diego Cancer Center, 2004-2005
- Recipient, Clinical Research Training Institute Award, American Society of Hematology, 2003