I am a surgeon scientist, with both an active clinical practice and well-funded research laboratory. Clinically, I perform complex surgical cases on patients with urologic cancers, including robotic salvage prostatectomies after prior radiation. My clinical expertise identifies critical needs for patients with advanced cancer and forms the basis of my translational efforts. My basic science research laboratory evaluates the role of nuclear receptors as drivers of oncogenesis and therapeutic resistance (to both drugs and radiation) in prostate and breast cancers.
To more effectively target nuclear receptor signaling, we developed and patented a novel class of compounds, peptidomimetics, that target protein-protein interactions between nuclear receptors and their coregulators, with structural and sequence-driven specificity. These agents are in advanced preclinical testing in both breast and prostate cancers for translation to the clinic.
To test our hypotheses in biologically and clinically relevant preclinical models, we pioneered the development of the ex vivo cultures of patient primary tumors. As they are tissue based, these explants adequately recapitulate the cellular heterogeneity, complex tissue architecture, cell-to-cell communication axes and in vivo signal transduction pathways that are the critical determinants of tissue responses to exogenous agents. My laboratory has the largest experience in the world with primary tumor explants, which when combined with next generation sequencing enables systematic analyses of tumor drug vulnerabilities. My laboratory has peer reviewed funding from the US Department of Defense, National Cancer Institute, Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas and Prostate Cancer Foundation. As a clinical-scientist, I am actively involved in translational research and work closely with and mentor basic science students, postdoctoral fellows and clinical residents and fellows.
I lead both the Prostate program and the Experimental Therapeutics program at the UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center. My life mission is to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer.