Electra Paskett, PhD (the Marion N. Rowley Professor of Cancer Research at The Ohio State University, the Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control in the College of Medicine, Professor of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health, Associate Director for Population Sciences, Program Leader of the Cancer Control Program, Director of the Center for Cancer Health Equity) –
Alcohol and tobacco use during the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for cancer risk
Questions on a COVID-19 survey ask if alcohol and tobacco use has changed for individuals during the covid-19 pandemic. Due to stress and anxiety associated with the pandemic, it is likely that some individuals increased their alcohol and tobacco intake during the pandemic. This has long-term implications on cancer, as alcohol and tobacco use are associated with increased risk for many cancers. For this project, the student will use the COVID-19 dataset to determine predictors of increased alcohol and tobacco use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical implications for this research could lead to identifying a sub-population who could be at increased risk for future cancer diagnoses.
Delay of cancer screening exam during the COVID-19 pandemic

Questions on a COVID-19 survey ask if the participant (or their doctor) had to postpone cancer screening exams (including Pap, mammogram, or colonoscopy) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Delayed cancer screening exams could lead to later stage at diagnosis when cancers are eventually detected. This project will be an exploratory analysis to determine what characteristics are associated with likelihood of delaying a cancer screening exam (either mammogram, Pap or colonoscopy). (HIGH STREET – CAMPUS)

Daniel Spakowicz, PhD (Assistant Professor in Medical Oncology and member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program) –
Recent evidence has suggested that there are microbes inside human tumors. We developed a pipeline to carefully identify and count the non-human reads within high throughput sequencing datasets of human tumor biopsies and are exploring how these relate to gene expression, immune cell abundance, and clinical attributes. The research involves working within small groups to analyze these data, typically in R, and identify how and in which cancers the tumor microbiome affects outcomes. (BRT)

Amy Ferketich, PhD (Professor of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health, Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science, Center for the Advancement of Tobacco Science, Member of Cancer Control Program) –
Research focuses on tobacco control, including smoking cessation, tobacco use surveillance, tobacco policy and tobacco regulatory science. I lead the Buckeye Teen Health Study, which is a project that started with The Ohio State University’s Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science. The goal of the study is to examine initiation and transition to tobacco use, including dual use of products, among 1,220 adolescent boys in urban and rural counties in Ohio. I am also one of the principal investigators on a hookah warning label project that is designed to determine the impact of a graphic and text-based warning label on smoking behavior. Another current project that I co-lead is a smoking cessation intervention for women who receive medical care at any of the 10 healthcare systems participating in our project. These systems are located in the Appalachian regions of Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia. Both of these projects are funded by the National Cancer Institute. (PUBLIC HEALTH BUILDING)

Amanda Toland, PhD (Associate Professor, Cancer Biology and Genetics, Member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program) –
Research focuses on identifying naturally occurring gene variations that affect cancer susceptibility, as well as mutations that drive tumors, in order to better prevent cancers in high-risk individuals, understand tumor growth and identify new targets for therapy and prevention. In particular, my work centers on the genetics of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, colorectal cancer and hereditary breast cancer. One of my recent studies found that variants in a gene important for eye color, OCA2, are associated with a shorter time to diagnosis of a skin cancer in solid organ transplant patients. (BRT)

Yael Vodovotz, PhD (Professor, Food Science and Technology in College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Director, Center for Advanced Functional Foods and Entrepreneurship) –
I am a member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program at the OSUCCC – James, where my research focuses on the chemical changes of functional foods in bioactives delivery. In particular, I use molecular, structural and macroscopic analysis to characterize food material behavior in differing conditions and modify these products to deliver bioactives to targeted organs. One of my recent studies showed that, because anti-apoptotic and pro-inflammatory molecular biomarkers are essential to oral carcinogenesis and are modifiable, they could be biomarkers of molecular efficacy for black raspberry-mediated oral cancer chemoprevention. (WEST CAMPUS)

Anna Vilgelm, MD (Assistant Professor in Department of Pathology, Member of Translational Therapeutics Program) – Dr. Vilgelm’s laboratory is engaged in pre-clinical research to develop novel effective strategies for therapy of melanoma and metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Vilgelm’s recent studies are focused on developing therapies that can facilitate tumor immune recognition and stimulate anti-tumor immunity by inducing “hot”, immune-cell enriched, and tumor microenvironment. Her group is also evaluating strategies for combining tumor-targeted and immune therapies for effective and long-lasting tumor control. They utilize Patient-Derived models, such as Patient-Derived xenografts and organoids, along with immunocompetent murine models, with the ultimate goal to advance precision oncology and personalized immunotherapy fields. Students might work on testing novel therapeutics and immunomodulatory agents on patient-derived organoids and work to investigate mechanisms of tumor immune evasion using immune cell -organoid co-culture models. There are a number of remote projects that students can work on in the event of lab lockdown, including application of bioinformatics tools towards RNAseq, proteomics, and high-plex spectral cytometry tumor immunophenotyping data analysis and mining, such as pathway analysis, gene set enrichment analysis, immune subsets estimation, transcription factor prediction, t-SNE dimension reduction, clustering etc. (BRT)

Jidong Fu MD, PhD (Associate Professor in Physiology and Cell Biology) –
Our group recently discovered a novel function of microRNA that can biophysically modulate the function of the heart. We have been investigating the molecular mechanism and physiological significance of this biophysical modulation. Depending on his/her interest and experience, the student can involve in one of these projects of molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology and animal functional studies. (GRAVES HALL)

Robert Baiocchi, MD, PhD (Professor of Medicine, Member of Leukemia Research Program, Associate Director fpr Translational and Clinical Science in the Division of Hematology, Assistant Program Director for Physician Scientists Training Program, Assistant Director for Internal Medicine Residency Program at Ohio State) –
The Baiocchi Lab has several projects that explore new approaches for treating and preventing a type of cancer called lymphoma. One project seeks to understand how a common virus known as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) causes lymphomas. This work seeks to discover how we can harness our immune system to prevent and treat EBV-driven cancers. The next project explores new types of anti-cancer treatments we can use to treat aggressive lymphomas. (WISEMAN)

Richard Bruno, PhD (Director of OARDC in Department of Human Sciences, Courtesy Professor in Food Science and Technology, Professor in Department of Human Sciences) –
Student would gain experience in a nutrition lab focusing on nutritional biochemistry and clinical nutrition. The Bruno Lab has several human intervention trials underway to evaluate phytochemicals and functional foods to improve intestinal health. We also plan a bioavailability study in humans where to study the absorption and metabolism of vitamin E and vitamin K from an isotopically labeled vegetable in order to develop health recommendations surrounding these critical nutrients that help to alleviate inflammation. A participating study is expected to be provided an opportunity to assist with a human clinical trial including study logistics, assist with the growth of an isotopically labeled vegetable for human consumption, learn how measure vitamins using in-house bioanalytical equipment (e.g. HPLC and LC-MS), and potentially assist with the analysis of biospecimens from human clinical trials. (CAMPBELL HALL)

Christin Burd, PhD (Assistant Professor, Member of Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention) –
I am a member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program at the OSUCCC – James, where my research focuses on improving our understanding of the connections between cancer and aging. My team’s goal is to bridge bench science and clinical trials. In particular, we aim to improve methods to prevent, diagnose and treat melanoma. Recent work from my lab examines how aging of the immune system is impacted by different cancer therapies and may influence drug toxicity and patient outcomes. I have developed several state-of-the-art genetically engineered models that allow scientists to track the formation and progression of spontaneous cancers and test melanoma prevention strategies. Additionally, I was the first in Ohio to receive a prestigious Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award. This award funds my ongoing research to develop new models and methods to combat tumors with a RAS gene mutation. Student research would focus on understanding the role of ultraviolet-light induced DNA damage in skin cancer initiation. (BRT)

James Fuchs, PhD (Professor in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy) –
Our lab has two primary cancer focused research areas in the field of drug discovery and development. The first is the synthesis and structural optimization of novel bioactive compounds isolated from natural sources that act on various proteins in cancer cells. The second project focuses on the preparation of protein degraders, which are designed to lead to "removal" of critical proteins in cancer cells. These molecules work by facilitating the ubiquitinylation of specific target proteins, a signal for the proteasome to carry out proteolytic degradation of this "tagged" protein. (RIFFE)

Aharon Freud, MD, PhD (Assistant Professor in Pathology, Member of Leukemia Research Program) –
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at The Ohio State University and a member of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James, where I seek to understand how natural killer (NK) cells develop in healthy and diseased settings so that processes can be modulated to promote effective NK cell anticancer functions. I am the co-holder of a U.S. patent related to CD34+ cells and their methods of use. My recent research includes investigating the role of the Epstein-Barr virus in NK-cell lymphoma, as well as studies exploring innate lymphoid cell and NK cell development in human tissues. Rotating students will have the opportunity to learn three main techniques in the lab: human tissue processing, flow cytometry, and cell culture. These techniques will be applied to one or more projects focused on gaining an understanding of how human innate lymphoid cells are produced and function normally and in the setting of cancer. (BRT)

Lawrence S. Kirschner, MD, PhD (Professor of Medicine, Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Member of Cancer Biology Program, Director of CAMELOT, Associate Director for MSTP) –
The Kirschner lab studies the genetics of endocrine tumors, with a focus on genes that cause inherited human tumor syndromes. Our current studies involve studying the function of three genes, known as PRKAR1A, PTEN, and SDHD. Despite the fact that each of these genes is expressed in all tissues throughout the body, mutation of any one of them causes a distinct set of tumors in patients. These tumor syndromes are passed in families as autosomal dominant traits, meaning each child from an affected parent has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation and the tumor predisposition. We use mouse models engineered to have mutations in each of these genes to understand the mechanism by which these mutations cause unregulated cellular growth. Working both in mouse models and in tissue culture cells (some from tumor cultures and some from cell lines) we study how these mutations affect cellular signaling and cellular metabolism. We are also interested in the question in how these genes affect the chance that a tumor will undergo metastatic spread from the original site to distant tissues in the body.  By understanding these pathway both in inherited and non-inherited tumors, we hope one day to be able to suppress tumor growth and tumor spread in order to provide better treatment to patients with these and other tumors.