Akash Patnaik, MD, PhD, joined the University of Chicago Medicine a year ago as a medical oncologist specializing in genitourinary cancers, including prostate, bladder, kidney, and testicular cancers. Also an accomplished researcher, Patnaik translates novel therapies developed in the lab into early-phase clinical trials. What is the focus of your research? The goal of my interdisciplinary research program, that spans both laboratory-based and early-phase clinical trial investigations, is to develop targeted therapeutic strategies to improve the responsive- ness of prostate cancer to immunotherapy. My current efforts as an independent investigator blend a unique combination of expertise in medical oncology, cancer biology, and early-phase clinical trial investigation. Several drugs targeting dysreg- ulated signaling pathways in tumor cells have been deployed in cancer therapy. However, their impact on immune responses within the tumor microen- vironment is poorly understood. My laboratory is now actively investigating how interference with cell survival signaling and DNA repair pathways can enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapy in prostate cancer. What is the impact of your research? We anticipate that our parallel efforts in the labora- tory and clinical trials will result in the development of new immune-based combination therapies to alleviate suffering from advanced prostate cancer within the next 5 years. What do you hope to accomplish during your career? I aspire to leverage the breadth of my parallel endeavors as a translational scientist, physician, and educator, to end suffering for patients with advanced prostate cancer. How did you get interested in studying cancer and/or treating cancer patients? At age 7, I had the misfortune of witnessing the progressive downhill course of my maternal grand- father, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and died within a few months Meet the Expert Akash Patnaik, MD, PhD ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE Research 6 PATHWAYS TO DISCOVERY SPRING 2017