Anja C. Roden, M.D., studies mediastinal neoplasms such as thymic epithelial tumors and primary mediastinal germ cell tumors from morphologic, immunophenotypical, molecular and clinical aspects. She developed and maintains a database that now includes over 600 patients with these rare tumors. This database forms the foundation of many of her studies.
Dr. Roden is also researching lung tumors, specifically neuroendocrine and salivary gland-type tumors, malignant mesotheliomas, and nonneoplastic lung diseases including interstitial lung diseases and lung allografts. She developed and maintains a large database of lung allograft biopsies. In addition, she actively participates in multidisciplinary global studies of mediastinal neoplasms and multi-institutional studies of malignant mesotheliomas and lung tumors.
- Thymic epithelial tumors. Dr. Roden studies morphologic, immunophenotypical and molecular features of thymic epithelial tumors, and develops and investigates new biomarkers in them. She correlates her findings with tumor staging and clinical parameters, including outcomes, of patients with these tumors.
- Malignant mesotheliomas. Dr. Roden's studies focus on research and development of existing and new biomarkers in various histologic subtypes of these tumors and their clinical implications.
- Lung cancer. Studies conducted by Dr. Roden focus on the development and research of biomarkers in neuroendocrine lung tumors and molecular aberrations in salivary gland tumors of the lung.
- Nonneoplastic lung disease. Using a large database of lung allograft biopsies, Dr. Roden studies ultrastructural, morphologic, immunophenotypical, and molecular features of various types of rejection including acute rejection and antibody mediated rejection. She extends her studies to mimickers of rejection including drug-related changes.
Significance to patient care
The overall goal of Dr. Roden's studies is to aid clinicians in personalized treatment of patients with thoracic neoplasms, specifically mediastinal neoplasms but also lung tumors and malignant mesotheliomas. In addition, her studies help better identify the prognosis of patients, which not only facilitates treatment decisions but also management of the patient. As mediastinal tumors in particular are difficult to study given their overall paucity, the large database developed by Dr. Roden greatly facilitates these studies.
- Thymic epithelial tumors. Although thymic epithelial tumors in general have a favorable prognosis, they are considered malignant as some can metastasize, recur or be fatal. While surgery is the mainstay treatment, some tumors are very large or locally advanced, invading into vital structures, which prohibits their surgical removal. Therefore, Dr. Roden's studies of molecular aberrations of these tumors and their expression of biomarkers aids in the development of effective targeted therapies for patients with these tumors.
- Malignant mesotheliomas. Dr. Roden's studies facilitate the development and application of targeted therapies in malignant mesotheliomas, currently a universally fatal disease with a very short survival rate.
- Lung cancer. Dr. Roden's studies help to more precisely distinguish high-grade from low-grade neuroendocrine tumors, which is necessary for correct application of treatment. Because they are rare, not much is known about the behavior of salivary gland-type tumors in the lung. Her studies enhance knowledge about the course of these tumors and are helpful for the management of patients with them.
- Nonneoplastic lung disease. Chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD) is the main cause of death in patients with nonneoplastic lung disease. Understanding of rejection for CLAD is still evolving, but it has been shown that acute rejection and antibody-mediated rejection are the major risk factors. In addition, rejection and mimickers of rejection require different treatments. The outcome of Dr. Roden's studies helps in the early recognition of rejection, facilitating early intervention and possibly decreasing the frequency of CLAD.
- Interstitial lung disease. Studies in interstitial lung disease, in part, closely align with Dr. Roden's interest in biomarkers for personalized medicine in thoracic tumors, as those are commonly immune-mediated. While immune-mediated therapy appears to be a very effective tumor treatment, side effects (including effects on the lungs) are not well studied. Dr. Roden's studies are investigating histologic changes in the lungs of patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors with the goal of early recognition and prevention.
- Member, Pathology Committee, International Association of Study of Lung Cancer, 2018-present
- Member, International Mesothelioma Working Group, 2018-present
- Associate editor, Mediastinum, 2017-present
- Editorial board member, Journal of Thoracic Disease, 2016-present
- Chair, Mediastinal Working Group, International Thymic Malignancy Interest Group, 2016-present
- Vice president, International Thymic Malignancy Interest Group, 2014-2018
- Recipient, Society Innovation Award, Pulmonary Pathology Society, 2017