Colorectal cancer is the most prevalent in GI cancers, causing 600,000 deaths worldwide each year. The Ajay Goel Lab is committed to developing better methods for the early detection and precision treatment of cancer.
Biomarkers for Diagnosis, Prognosis, Treatment Response and Monitoring
Using a multiplicity of molecular approaches, City of Hope researchers have identified a diverse range of novel colorectal cancer biomarkers, including DNA, mRNA, microRNA and DNA methylation-based biomarkers. The potential clinical applications of these biomarkers are broad, and include diagnosis, prognosis, treatment prediction and monitoring of colorectal and other GI cancers, as well as patient stratification for clinical trials. Notably, most of these biomarkers have been validated using clinical samples from large patient cohorts and have been described in highly regarded peer-reviewed journals. These biomarkers offer three benefits that are key to clinical and commercial success:
Multiple applications – novel, proprietary biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of colorectal and other GI cancers
Stand-alone or multiplexed – the biomarkers can potentially be used in stand-alone assays, or as part of multiplexed assays to achieve greater sensitivity and specificity
Integration – the biomarkers are compatible with standard molecular platforms and workflows
Professor and Chair in the Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics and Associate Director of Basic Science in the Comprehensive Care Center, Ajay Goel's research focuses on better methods for the early detection and precision treatment of cancer.
Hiroyuki Hanayama, M.D., Ph.D., graduated from Fukushima Medical University and worked in Fukushima, Japan, as an upper digestive tract surgeon prior to joining City of Hope. He obtained a Ph.D. from Fukushima Medical University. Dr. Hanayama is fascinated by minimally invasive surgery, such as laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery.
Dr. Hanayama hopes to reduce tumor recurrence after surgery and accurately predict the recurrence with gastrointestinal cancer. He is interested in clinical biomarkers that can predict the eligibility of radical surgery after neoadjuvant therapy and adjuvant therapy after curative surgery for gastrointestinal cancer patients.
In addition to his research, he likes to go jogging and travel around Los Angeles.
Nour-Lynn (Nouni) Mouallem recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in neuroscience and worked as a genetic variant assessment researcher at Ambry Genetics before joining City of Hope. Mouallem's aim is to research clinical biomarkers that can improve the prognosis of pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancer patients. Her hope is to help in developing diagnostic tools for early cancer detection.
In addition to her research, she likes to cook new types of cuisine and travel.
Katsuki Miyazaki, M.D., graduated from Tokushima University and worked as a general surgeon in Japan prior to joining City of Hope. Dr. Miyazaki has participated in research fields concerned with tumor immunity, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and regenerative medicine in Japan. At City of Hope, Dr. Miyazaki’s goal is to research clinical biomarkers that can change the treatment and prognosis of gastrointestinal cancer, especially hepato-biliary-pancreatic cancer.
Milad Moloudizargari, D.V.M., Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in gastrointestinal oncology. He obtained his D.V.M. from the School of Veterinary Medicine, Urmia University, in Urmia, Iran. He then obtained his Ph.D. in medical immunology from the School of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, in Tehran, Iran. During his Ph.D., Moloudizargari's research focused on the study of immune cell regulation by cancer-derived extracellular vesicles, its effects on anti-cancer immune responses and the possibility of targeting such interactions for therapeutic purposes.
His research interest is to study the interactions of cancer cells with their microenvironment, including the immune cells, to discover novel therapeutic and diagnostic targets. He is also interested in finding novel biomarkers for early cancer diagnosis and prediction of response to treatment.
Innovative approaches to turn science into technology is what he loves the most.
His favorite leisure activities include traveling, camping, listening to music and going to the gym.
Manikandan Murugesan, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics in the Ajay Goel lab at City of Hope. He completed his Ph.D. in biomedical science at Bharathidasan University in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India. His Ph.D. research focused on delineating the potential therapeutic candidates associated with the hypoxic pathogenesis in breast cancer using integrative omics-based approaches.
His research interests include understanding the mechanism of cell-free DNA in the progression of gastrointestinal cancer, as well as identifying new predictive biomarkers, treatment resistance and translating therapeutic factors into novel precision trails using molecular and translational techniques. In addition to his research, he enjoys listening music.
Kota Nakamura, M.D., Ph.D., graduated from Nara Medical University and worked in Nara, Japan, as a general and pancreatic surgeon prior to joining City of Hope. Kota Nakamura is fascinated by researching preventive postoperative complications.
Dr. Nakamura's hope is to research clinical biomarkers that can improve the prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients.
Dr. Nakamura is interested in the recurrence prediction related to chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer, novel biomarkers that predict neoadjuvant treatment response, and the nature and behavior of pancreatic cancer.
Keisuke Okuno, M.D., Ph.D., graduated from Tokyo Medical and Dental University and worked in Tokyo, Japan, as a gastric surgeon prior to joining City of Hope. He obtained his Ph.D. from Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and his Ph.D. research focused on the role of histone methylation in gastric cancer progression.
Dr. Okuno’s research interest is to elucidate the mechanism of cancer progression and find clinical biomarkers that can improve the prognosis of patients with gastrointestinal cancer. He is also interested in liquid biopsies that can easily diagnose cancer and predict the recurrence of cancer.
In addition to his research, he likes to play golf and travel with his family around Los Angeles.
Souvick Roy, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics under the guidance of Professor Ajay Goel at City of Hope. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Biotechnology from School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. His Ph.D. study is focused on abrogating cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) mediated therapeutic resistance by targeting EGFR-MAPK and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway by using different therapeutic strategies in Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
His research interest focuses on identification of molecular targets implicated in therapy resistance and development of therapeutic strategies for treatment of solid tumors through integrated genomic and proteomic analysis along with development of diagnostic tools for early detection and recurrence prediction through disease monitoring.
In addition to his research, he likes to play soccer and listen to music.
Silei Sui graduated from Dalian Medical University with a Ph.D. in oncology and worked on molecular mechanism and clinical significance of colorectal cancer before joining City of Hope. After graduation, she worked as a visiting postdoctor under the guidance of Ajay Goel, Ph.D., M.S., at City of Hope. Her aim is to identify clinical biomarkers on improving the survival and treatment effect of colorectal cancer based on multi-omics NGS approach.
Sui is skilled in Python, R, and machine learning and experienced in the biological analysis of genome sequencing, transcriptional sequencing and single cell sequencing data.
Outside of work, she enjoys fitness and listening to music.
Caiming Xu, M.D., Ph.D., worked as a visiting postdoctor under the guidance of Ajay Goel, Ph.D., M.S., at City of Hope. He obtained both his M.D. and Ph.D. in surgery at Dalian Medical University, Dalian, Liaoning, China. His Ph.D. research focuses on molecular mechanism of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and acute pancreatitis. He revealed that the infiltration of immune cells may represent a possible target in the treatment of PDAC.
His research interest focuses on identifying novel biomarkers and targeting molecules for diagnosis and therapeutics of pancreatobiliary tumors using multi-omics NGS approach.
Outside of work, he enjoys football and ping-pong.
Francis Maria Esposito
In Seob Lee
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Identification of laminin γ2 as a prognostic and predictive biomarker for determining response to gemcitabine-based therapy in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. European journal of cancer (Oxford, England : 1990), 146, 125–134. (2021).
Okada, Y., Nishiwada, S., Yamamura, K., Sho, M., Baba, H., Takayama, T. and Goel, A.
Transcriptomic Profiling Identifies a Risk Stratification Signature for Predicting Peritoneal Recurrence and Micrometastasis in Gastric Cancer. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, 27(8), 2292–230
Lee, I.S., Lee, H., Hur, H., Kanda, M., Yook, J.H., Kim, B.S., Woo, Y., Kodera, Y., Kim, K.S. and Goel, A.
Cancer Biomarkers and Big Data: A Planetary Science Approach, Cancer Cell, Volume 38, Issue 6, Pages 757-760, ISSN 1535-6108 (2020)
Crichton, D.J., Altinok A., Amos, C., Anton, K., Cinquini, L., Colbert, M., Feng, Z. and Goel, A.
A MicroRNA Signature Identifies Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Patients at Risk for Lymph Node Metastases. Gastroenterology, 159(2), 562–574. (2020)
Nishiwada, S., Sho, M., Banwait, J.K., Yamamura, K., Akahori, T., Nakamura, K., Baba, H. and Goel, A.
Epigenetics of colorectal cancer: biomarker and therapeutic potential. Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 17(2), 111–130. (2020)
Jung. G., Hernandez-Illa, E., Moreira, L., Balaguer, F. and Goel, A.