Derek C. Radisky, Ph.D., is a cancer biology researcher at Mayo Clinic who investigates the inductive signals in the microenvironment that drive cancer development and disease progression. His research leverages a combination of physiologically relevant, engineered cell culture systems, physiologically relevant preclinical models, and evaluation of human tissue cohorts. Dr. Radisky also uses premalignant breast tissue derived from benign breast biopsies to identify novel pathways of breast cancer development that can be targeted with improved prevention and treatment strategies. His goals are to reduce cancer incidence, improve therapeutic outcomes and decrease cancer disparities.
- Breast cancer risk and prevention. Dr. Radisky is conducting molecular and histological analyses of an extensive cohort of women diagnosed with benign breast disease at Mayo Clinic. He collaborates with colleagues Amy C. Degnim, M.D., and Mark E. Sherman, M.D., to identify pathways associated with the earliest stages of cancer development toward individualized breast cancer risk prediction and improved prevention strategies.
- Racial disparities in breast cancer outcomes. Dr. Radisky's work is identifying factors associated with development of aggressive breast cancer in African American and Black women. Dr. Radisky collaborates with Michele Cote, Ph.D., at Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit to define breast cancer risk factors through interrogation of a clinical cohort of African American and Black women diagnosed with benign breast disease.
- Matrix metalloproteinases in cancer. Dr. Radisky is identifying the roles of matrix metalloproteinases as drivers and therapeutic targets in cancer. He collaborates with colleague Evette S. Radisky, Ph.D., to define how these enzymes act to promote breast, lung and ovarian cancer, and to develop specific inhibitors with therapeutic benefit for treatment of these diseases.
- Acute lung injury and lung fibrosis. Dr. Radisky is developing therapeutic strategies to make treatment of lung disease more effective. He collaborates with Gregory P. Downey, M.D., at National Jewish Health in Denver to develop strategies to target matrix metalloproteinases in lung diseases associated with infection and chronic inflammation.
- Bioengineered cancer models. Dr. Radisky is developing 3D cell culture models to define how the tumor microenvironment drives progression of breast cancer and lung cancer. He collaborates with Celeste M. Nelson, Ph.D., at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, to develop models that dissect the biochemical and biophysical signals that affect cancer cell growth, invasion and metastasis.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Radisky's goal is to understand cancer and disease development as a process that involves the entire individual, enabled by changes in the local tissue structure, circulating hormones and growth factors, and the action of the immune system. By defining how these systems interact, he is developing more-effective methods of cancer prevention and therapeutic treatment.