The Anticancer Drug Action Lab of Scott H. Kaufmann, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic New discoveries in cancer treatment

Our goal is to improve the therapy of cancer by improving understanding of the mechanisms by which anticancer treatments kill susceptible tumor cells.


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 and resistance.

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

Research goals and topics

Our research goals 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 and resistance
  • Use these new insights to develop biomarkers of anticancer drug sensitivity and resistance that can potentially be implemented in the clinic to assess whether certain treatments are likely to be beneficial or not

While our focuses predominantly on ovarian cancers and leukemias, our research findings are potentially applicable to other types of cancer, too.

The approaches used by Dr. Kaufmann's lab team 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

In addition to being principal investigator of the lab, Dr. Kaufmann is an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, treating patients with ovarian cancer and leukemia. He is a professor of medicine and pharmacology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science and is the Helen C. Levitt Professor. Dr. Kaufmann has joint appointments in the Division of Oncology Research and the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, which he currently chairs.


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