The Ludwig Center at The University of Chicago is led under the direction of Ralph Weichselbaum, M.D., the Ludwig Professor of Radiation & Cellular Oncology, and Geoffrey L. Greene the Ludwig Professor of the Ben May Department for Cancer Research.
Ralph R. Weichselbaum, M.D.
Dr. Ralph Weichselbaum is the Daniel K. Ludwig Professor and Chairman of Radiation and Cellular Oncology and Director of the Ludwig Center for Metastasis Research at The University of Chicago. Dr. Weichselbaum has devoted his career to translational research in cancer. While a faculty member in radiation therapy and cancer biology at Harvard in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Weichselbaum defined the role of potentially lethal radiation damage in human tumor cells and the role of this type of DNA repair in radiotherapy. He became head of the section of radiotherapy at the Dana Farber/Brigham and Woman’s Hospital and made major contributions to the treatment of head and neck cancer with combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Weichselbaum came to the University of Chicago in late 1984 and established the first department of radiation and cellular oncology which has become one of the dominant academic departments in the U.S.
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, his laboratory was investigating basic signal transduction mechanisms in mammalian cells following ionizing radiation exposure and in separate studies investigated mechanisms of radiation resistance/sensitivity mediated by cytokines secreted from tumors. From these seemingly unrelated studies, Weichselbaum and co-workers conceived "genetic radiotherapy". In this transcriptional targeting gene therapy paradigm, radiation activates DNA sequences from a radio (or chemo) inducible promoter, in this case the CArG elements from the egr-1 gene which are cloned upstream of a cDNA for a toxin, (TNFα). The tumor is then exposed to the "standard cancer therapy" as well as the induced toxin which is spatially and temporally controlled by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The egr-TNFα construct was the cloned into an adenovirus for delivery (Ad-egr-TNFα). Impressive results were obtained in several preclinical studies. The vector has been commercialized and is currently in three separate phase 1-2 clinical trials. In 1998, Weichselbaum identified angiogenesis inhibitors as highly effective with radiation therapy in experimental systems. This work is also currently being translated into many phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials.
Weichselbaum was a founding scientist in GenVec and Convergence Therapeutics and was a consulting scientist for Medigene. He holds over 30 patents in gene therapy and angiogenesis inhibitors with radiation and chemotherapy. He was awarded the Hines Professorship at the University of Chicago in 1992, the Ludwig Professorship in 1998, named Head of the Program in Molecular Oncology in 2000, and Director of the Ludwig Center for Metastasis Research in 2006. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Geoffrey L. Greene, Ph.D.
Dr. Geoffrey Greene is the Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Professor and Vice Chair of The Ben May Department for Cancer Research, the Chair of the Committee on Cancer Biology, Associate Director of Basic Sciences for the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Co-Director of the Ludwig Center for Metastasis Research at the University of Chicago. Dr. Greene received his B.A. in chemistry from the College of Wooster in 1969 and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Northwestern University in 1974. He joined the Ben May Laboratories faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1980 after receiving postdoctoral training in Dr. Elwood Jensen's laboratory at the University of Chicago. He was promoted to full Professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research in 1991. Dr. Greene is internationally recognized for his work on the function of female hormones and SERMs in breast cancer, and for the development of estrogen and progesterone receptor antibodies, which have had major diagnosis applications in breast cancer throughout the world. His lab studies the molecular mechanisms by which steroids and SERMs regulate development, differentiation, cellular proliferation and survival in hormone responsive tissues and cancers, via one or both of the two estrogen receptor subtypes, ERα & ERβ. Projects in Dr. Greene’s laboratory have direct relevance and application to breast cancer genesis, progression, treatment and prevention, as well as to the development of compounds that can be used for hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women.
Dr. Greene has received several prestigious awards for his research accomplishments, including the Ernst Oppenheimer Award from the Endocrine Society, the John Brewer Distinguished Alumni Lectureship at Northwestern University, the first Tartikoff-Semel Award from the Revlon/UCLA Women's Cancer Research Program, and the first Olof Pearson Lecturer at Case Western Reserve University. In addition, he recently received the NAMS/Wyeth Pharmaceutical SERMs award from the North American Menopausal Society.