Leadership & Administration
Pete Nelson is a co-director of Core A (Leadership & Administration) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE and co-leader of Project 4 (Clinical Development of Therapeutic Strategies Targeting Damage Responses in the Prostate Tumor Microenvironment). Dr. Nelson is a full member of the Hutchinson Center, a professor in the University of Washington Medical School’s oncology program, an adjunct professor in the UW’s genome sciences and pathology programs, co-head of the Program in Prostate Cancer Research (PPCR), and director of the Canary Foundation.
The focus of Dr. Nelson’s current work (in the Hutchinson Center’s Nelson lab) involves efforts to understand the process of prostate carcinogenesis with an aim toward developing diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic strategies. The major projects of the Nelson Lab are molecular analysis of therapies for early and late stage prostate carcinoma, characterization of the prostate androgen-response program, analysis of prostate serine protease function in metastatic prostate carcinoma, determining the role of aging and cellular senescence in prostate carcinogenesis, and determining the role of normal variation in dictating cancer phenotypes. For more information about the Nelson Lab’s work, visit http://pnelson.fhcrc.org.
Janet Stanford, PhD
Dr. Janet Stanford is a co-director of Core A (Leadership & Administration) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE, a co-leader of Project 1 (Molecular Predictors of Prostate Cancer Progression and Mortality), and co-head of the Program in Prostate Cancer Research (PPCR). Dr. Stanford is a member of the Hutchinson Center and a research professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health. In the early 1990s, Stanford became one of the first Center researchers to focus on prostate cancer and today is recognized worldwide as an expert in the field. Her numerous studies and leadership of the program in prostate cancer research have illuminated many of the environmental, behavioral and genetic factors that can cause the disease. She also helps lead a nationwide research project of more than 2,000 people in more than 300 families exploring why prostate-cancer risk is higher in some families. Understanding the inherited genetic mutations for prostate cancer may provide new clues to help diagnose, treat, cure and even prevent it in future generations.
Dr. Stanford’s main research interests focus on hormonal, environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors that may alter cancer risk, cancer recurrence or progression, and cancer-specific mortality. The role of underlying genetic susceptibility based on rare, and high penetrance mutations as well as more common genetic variants of lower penetrance is a major focus of her research. As a cancer epidemiologist, Dr. Standford has been involved in the development, implementation, and analyses of research studies of the etiology and progression of several different types of cancer. However, her current concentration is on prostate cancer. The recent completion of two large population-based case-control studies of risk factors for prostate cancer has allowed Dr. Stanford and her research team to examine environmental/lifestyle exposures and genetic polymorphisms in candidate genes in relation to prostate cancer etiology and outcomes.
Paul Lange, MD
Paul Lange is a co-director of Core A (Leadership & Administration) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE, professor of urology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and the Pritt Family Endowed Chair in prostate cancer research. Dr. Lange also conducts a large clinical practice in urologic cancer and is director of the Institute for Prostate Cancer Research (IPCR), a multidisciplinary research initiative of the UW and Fred Hutchinson Research Center. Dr. Lange has served on many editorial boards including the New England Journal of Medicine, and is internationally recognized for his clinical and experimental work in a variety of genitourinary cancers especially prostate and testis. He has authored or co-authored over 450 articles and three books. The research interests of Dr. Lange and the Genitourinary Cancer Research Laboratory he leads at the University of Washington include the detection, isolation and characterization of disseminated prostate cancer cells, the biology of prostate cancer bone metastases, biospecimen acquisition, and prostate cancer xenograft generation.
Researchers & Clinicians
Joshi Alumkal, MD
Joshi Alumkal is co-leader of Project 2 (Targeting LSD1 in Prostate Cancer). He was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at OHSU in 2007 and Molecular and Medical Genetics in 2010. He received his MD from Baylor College of Medicine, completed his Internal Medicine residency training at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and completed his Medical Oncology fellowship training at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Alumkal’s research centers on mechanisms of castration-resistance and prostate cancer progression. He focuses on epigenetic/epigenomic contributors to this process. In his SPORE-funded research, Dr. Alumkal used gene expression profiles to identify the critical genes and pathways regulated by the LSD1 histone demethylase. He is now developing clinical trials that target LSD1 in prostate cancer patients. Dr. Alumkal has numerous published manuscripts related to his SPORE studies. He was selected to moderate the GU oral abstract session at the 2011 ASCO meeting. He was the recipient of an NIH KL2 Career Development Award and recently received a Kuni Foundation Clinical Scholar Award and a Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award. The latter builds on work from his SPORE Career Development Award.
Tomasz M. Beer, MD
Tomasz M. Beer is co-leader of Project 2 (Targeting LSD1 in Prostate Cancer). He is Deputy Director, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, and Grover C. Bagby Endowed Chair for Prostate Cancer Research, Director, Prostate Cancer Research Program, and Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, OHSU. He has a medical oncology practice and has pioneered the development of novel therapies such as using high-dose vitamin D with chemotherapy for advanced disease. Dr. Beer participates in clinical trial groups such as Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), and the DOD Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium (PCCTC). Dr. Beer serves as the SPORE’s institutional liason for the DRP and CDP to OHSU and is a leader of the ‘Clinical Trials and Outcomes’ Translational Working Team.
Ruth Etzioni, PhD
Ruth Eztioni is an affiliate professor of biostatistics and health services at the University of Washington and a member of the Hutchinson Center. Dr. Etzioni directs Core C (Biostatistics) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE. Dr. Etzioni and her colleagues were among the first to formally evaluate the test’s ability to distinguish between true cancers and benign conditions. They have concluded that a variation on the PSA test that uses two types of PSA measurements could improve the test’s accuracy for men with borderline-normal total PSA levels, potentially leading to a significant drop in medical costs and complications for this group of men. Etzioni and colleagues have also determined that roughly one-third of older men diagnosed with prostate cancer through the PSA test are “overdiagnosed” with the disease, meaning patients are receiving unnecessary surgeries or other treatments even though the disease isn’t likely to threaten their health. Dr. Etzioni’s work currently focuses on the development and implementation of statistical methods for prostate cancer studies. In the past, she has worked on assessing the efficacy of PSA screening from population studies, estimating the frequency of overdiagnosis associated with PSA, evaluating novel prostate cancer biomarkers, and tracking patterns and outcomes of prostate cancer care. Her work in prostate cancer surveillance is conducted as part of the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET). As leader of the biostatistics core for the Northwest Prostate Cancer SPORE, Dr. Etzioni has developed methods for analyzing immunohistochemical studies, and combining results from microarray experiments, while working with SPORE investigators to select the most appropriate design and analysis approaches for a broad array of studies. She is an affiliate investigator on the Data Management Coordination Center for the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) and continues to work with EDRN statisticians on methods for biomarker development. In addition to these projects, her current interests include modeling the development of resistance to androgen ablation therapy.
Martin Gleave, MD
Dr. Gleave is a co-leader of Project 3 (Targeting SEMA3C in Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE. Dr. Gleave also serves as the Executive Director of the Vancouver Prostate Centre, the Chief Executive Officer of PC-TRIADD, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Urologic Sciences at UBC, and the BC Leadership Chair in Prostate Cancer Research. Dr. Gleave is a clinician-scientist and urologic surgeon. His major research focus involves the study of cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating progression of prostate cancer to its lethal stage of androgen independence, and use of this information to develop integrated multimodality therapies that specifically target these mechanisms. Dr. Gleave established a role for clusterin as a cancer-related cell survival protein involved in treatment resistance and developed an inhibitor, designated OGX-011, which improved efficacy of hormone- and chemo-therapies in prostate and other cancer models. He is the scientific founder of OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
John L. Gore, MD
John Gore is co-director of Core D (Clinical) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE, and is an Assistant Professor in the Urology Department at the University of Washington, School of Medicine. He is also co-director of UroSCOAP, a regional urological quality collaborative in Washington State, which aims to improve prostate cancer care regionally. He graduated summa cum laude in chemistry and biology from the University of Minnesota, and earned his MD from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. He completed his general and urologic surgery training at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Subsequently, Dr. Gore was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, training in health services research with a focus on quality of care, quality of life, and advanced econometric methods. During this time, he earned his Masters of Science in Health Services (MSHS) from the UCLA School of Public Health. Dr. Gore is one of only a handful of physician-scientists in the United States who are clinically trained in urologic oncology and fellowship trained in Health Services Research. Dr. Gore has focused his research on studying issues of access to care and quality of care for patients with urologic cancers.
Tia Higano, MD
Celestia (Tia) Higano is a professor in the Medical Oncology Division of the University of Washington School of Medicine, a full member of the Hutchinson Center in Clinical Research, and a member of the Genitourinary Oncology Clinical Research Group. Early in her career as an oncologist, Dr. Higano was frustrated by a lack of answers for her prostate cancer patients. Her desire to offer better options and odds for patients with advanced disease drove her to start a parallel career in research. Now, 20+ years of significant studies have helped give patients answers and have made her a powerhouse in the field of prostate cancer. Higano is a pioneer in testing therapeutic vaccines against prostate cancer, including a drug known as Provenge, whose FDA approval in 2010 made it the first approved therapeutic vaccine for any solid tumor cancer. Such vaccines are part of a growing field of cancer research called immunotherapy, which harnesses the natural power of the immune system to fight disease.
Daniel Lin, MD
Daniel Lin is a co-leader of Project 1 (Molecular Predictors of Prostate Cancer Progression and Mortality) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE. He is an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Chief of Urologic Oncology, and a urologist specializing in genitourinary oncology, prostate cancer early detection and prevention. Dr. Lin’s research work currently focuses on the molecular mechanisms of prostate carcinogenesis. In addition to his SPORE research, Dr. Lin is co-PI on a nationwide phase III clinical trial administered through the VA investigating the efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy to prevent progression in patients at high risk for relapse after radical prostatectomy for clinically localized prostate cancer; PI on a multi-institutional study (through the Canary Foundation) to discover and confirm biomarkers that predict aggressive disease in a prospective cohort of men on active surveillance; co-investigator on a study investigating the synergistic targeting of androgen receptor and androgen metabolism in prostate cancer; PI on a project to use an in vivo human intervention model to evaluate the mechanisms underlying the associations of sulforaphane and Brassica vegetables with reduced prostate cancer risk; co-investigator on a multi-center, retrospective tissue microarray (TMA) study to evaluate tissue biomarkers for their ability to predict recurrent prostate cancer at the time of radical prostatectomy (RP).
Bruce Montgomery, MD
Bruce Montgomery is a co-leader of Project 4 (Clinical Development of Therapeutic Strategies Targeting Damage Responses in the Prostate Tumor Microenvironment) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE. Dr. Montgomery made the switch from laboratory research to patient care and clinical research because he wanted to work with the prostate cancer team at UW Medicine and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. “It was the opportunity to work with the amazing team at in the Program in Prostate Cancer Research, that first attracted me to doing research in prostate cancer and ultimately to doing clinical trials and treating patients,” says Dr. Montgomery. Dr. Montgomery divides his time between seeing patients at the SCCA Prostate Center and research. He is a medical oncologist, an associate professor at UW Medicine, and an associate member of the Hutchinson Center. Dr. Montgomery’s clinical expertise includes adjuvant therapy, and resistance to hormonal therapy and chemotherapy.
Stephen Plymate, MD
Dr. Plymate is a co-leader of Project 5 (Exploiting Mechanisms of Response and Resistance to Next Generation Androgen Pathway Antagonists) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE. Dr. Plymate attends in the Prostate Cancer Clinic at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System (VAPSHCS), the transitional care unit at VAPSHCS, and the geriatrics consult service and medicine wards at Harborview Medical Center. Dr. Plymate’s laboratory has continued work in prostate cancer over the past year. There have been three areas of funded research in his program. These include 1: control of prostate cancer growth and metastasis by inhibition of the type 1 IGF receptor with human monoclonal antibodies. Results in this area over the past year have shown that IGF-IR inhibition markedly enhances effects of castration by altering nuclear localization of the androgen receptor by changing AR phosphorylation sites. In collaboration with Dr. Higano, a phase 1 trial of a human IGF-IR mab is in progress at the SCCA. 2: The role of extracellular matrix proteins, specifically laminins, in regulation of the senescent prostate epithelial phenotype and angiogenesis. This work has resulted in Dr. Plymate receiving a U54 grant in the Tumor Microenvironment Network NCI program as well as a local grant for study of laminin alpha 4 subunits. 3: Dr. Plymate has continued his collaboration with Dr. J. Wu on the innate NK immune system in prostate cancer. 4. A final area of funding in Dr. Plymate’s lab is androgen receptor splicing. This research involves understanding the role of generation of constitutively active androgen receptors following castration and generation of castration resistant prostate cancer.
Lawrence True, MD
Dr. True is a co-director of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE Core B (Tissue & Specimen), and director of the University of Washington Medical School’s Urologic Pathology program. As a pathologist, Dr. True works in two domains– clinical and experimental. His research is focused on the prostate and urinary bladder. Using cell and tissue localization techniques (laser microdissection, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry) and molecular techniques (expression arrays and proteomics), applied to both cell lines and to human tissue (both primary benign and malignant prostate and bladder, and prostate xenografts), Dr. True is interested in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer, benign prostatic hypertrophy, and prostatitis. Working with members of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE and the UW/FHCRC prostate cancer program, he is characterizing the molecular basis of the phenotype of prostate cancer and cancer-associated stroma in all manifestations of the disease – nuclear structure, the grade of primary cancer, metastases, and androgen deprivation-resistant progressive prostate cancer. His clinical work is surgical pathology with a subspecialty focus on tumors of the prostate, urinary bladder, testis, and kidney.
Robert Vessella, PhD
Robert Vessella is a co-director of Core B (Tissue & Specimen) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE. Dr. Vessella serves as a professor in the UW Medical School’s departments of urology and microbiology. His research interests include:
- Biomarkers for the detection of prostate cancer and those useful in monitoring the clinical course of the disease. These include markers that are secreted or cell associated which could be helpful in predicting the aggressiveness of the tumor.
- Developing a biospecimen infrastructure for the study of prostate cancer. These efforts have led to the development of a large serum/plasma and tissue bank that contains thousands of well documented clinical specimens, including bone and soft tissue metastases acquired through our rapid autopsy program.
- Developing human xenograft models in immune compromised mice that mimic the clinical disease in man, including progression from androgen dependence to androgen refractory disease and growth in bone that yields the characteristic osteoblastic response.
- The detection of prostate cancer cell dissemination into the blood and bone marrow with the isolation and characterization of these cells. Since 2002, this work has been in collaboration with investigators at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
- The biology of prostate cancer dissemination and growth in bone, including the study of the bone microenvironment and factors which perturb normal bone remodeling and lead to the characteristic osteoblastic response.
Evan Yu, MD
Evan Yu, co-Director of Core D (Clinical) of the PNW Prostate Cancer SPORE, is an associate professor at the University of Washington Medical School’s oncology division, an associate member in Clinical Research at the Hutchinson Center, and a member of the Genitourinary Oncology Clinical Research Group. Dr. Yu’s research work currently focuses on translational efforts to test novel therapeutics and discover unique cancer-related biomarkers. He is currently evaluating PET scans in with novel radiotracers as a marker of treatment response for patients with metastatic prostate cancer. He is also studying the role of fatty acid synthase as it relates to 11C-acetate PET uptake and prostate cancer biology. He has plans for multiple PET studies in the future that evaluate bone and even image the androgen receptor. Dr. Yu is also testing multiple novel agents in prostate cancer that target multiple kinases, survivin, and clusterin (anti-apoptotic protein). His overall goal is to discover novel biomarkers with predictive clinical value that can help guide treatment and aid in the development of novel therapeutics for patients with prostate cancer.