About the Lab

The Anticancer Drug Action Laboratory of Scott H. Kaufmann, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic focuses its research on understanding the mechanism of action of anticancer drugs and the factors that affect tumor cell sensitivity or resistance.

The vast majority of patients with cancer receive anticancer drugs at some point during the course of the disease. Understanding the factors that affect sensitivity or resistance can provide important new insight into whether a particular drug is likely to be effective in treating the cancer or not.

Research goals and topics

The goals of research in Dr. Kaufmann's Anticancer Drug Action Lab are to:

  • Understand the processes by which anticancer drugs kill susceptible tumor cells
  • Elucidate the steps involved in transmitting signals from the initial drug target to the cytotoxic machinery within cells
  • Determine how differences in these signaling steps from one tumor to another impact anticancer drug sensitivity or resistance
  • Use these new insights to develop biomarkers of anticancer drug sensitivity or resistance that can potentially be implemented in the clinic to assess whether certain treatments are likely to be beneficial or not

While Dr. Kaufmann's lab focuses predominantly on ovarian cancers and acute leukemia, the findings are potentially applicable to other types of cancer, too.

The approaches used by the laboratory range from analysis of purified proteins under cell-free conditions to studies in tissue culture cell lines, patient-derived xenograft models and tumor samples derived from patients enrolled in clinical trials.

About Dr. Kaufmann

Dr. Kaufmann is the Helen C. Levitt Professor at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, with joint appointments in the Division of Oncology Research and the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Dr. Kaufmann is an active member of the Division of Oncology Research; the Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine; and the Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, which he currently chairs.

The goal of Dr. Kaufmann's Anticancer Drug Action Lab is to improve the therapy of cancer by improving understanding of the mechanisms by which anticancer treatments kill susceptible cells.

Dr. Kaufmann's research interests include:

  • Investigation of the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death)
  • Elucidation of the cytotoxic mechanisms employed by conventional anticancer drugs and targeted agents
  • Development of biomarkers to assess the integrity of signaling steps leading to anticancer drug-induced apoptosis in susceptible cells
  • Testing of these biomarkers in the context of suitably designed early-phase clinical trials or dedicated biomarker studies


Dr. Kaufmann's lab has several affiliations within Mayo Clinic: