Scientific Program

Researchers at the University of Chicago Ludwig Center are finding ways to improve cancer therapy by understanding how cancer spreads, why it is resistant to therapy, and how metastasis can be targeted.  With knowledge about these aspects of cancer, therapy can be individually tailored to patients in order to avoid the toxicity of overly aggressive treatment.  Researchers are already translating this knowledge into the clinic to target metastatic disease.  For example, investigators have shown that patients with oligometastasis (limited sites of metastatic disease) who failed standard therapies can be safely treated with targeted radiotherapy.      

The Center brings together researchers from various areas of expertise, including molecular and cell biology, bioinformatics, chemistry, genetics, imaging and medicine to dissect the basic mechanisms of metastasis using sophisticated, state-of-the-art approaches.  Ultimately, the Center aims to further our understanding of what fundamentally controls cancer’s deadly spread and translate laboratory concepts to novel therapeutics to treat and prevent metastasis.  

Current Research Activities
  • Hormone receptors as targets for enhanced radiotherapy/chemotherapy sensitivity in cancers of the breast and prostate. Investigators: Geoffrey Greene, PhD, Ralph Weichselbaum, MD
  • Small molecule screen for receptor-independent radiotherapy/chemotherapy sensitizers in cancers of the breast, lung, ovary and prostate. Investigators: Geoffrey Greene, PhD, Ralph Weichselbaum, MD
  • Development of novel receptor-targeted nanoparticle reagents for cancer imaging and therapy. Investigators: Geoffrey Greene, PhD, Xiao-Min Lin, PhD, Yan Zhao, PhD, Liaohai Chen, PhD, Chin-Tu Chen, PhD, Jeff Souris, PhD, Luping Yu, PhD, Ralph Weichselbaum, MD
  • Molecular signatures that identify patients who are resistant to the cytotoxic effects of radiotherapy and who are predisposed to metastasis. Investigators: Nikolai Khodarev, PhD, Andy Minn, MD, PhD, Ralph Weichselbaum, MD
  • Effects of stroma on the induction of molecular signatures and the role of miRNA on genes that predispose the metastatic phenotype. Investigators: Andy Minn, MD, PhD
  • Immunization against metastasis using TNFS14 or LIGHT. Investigators: Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, Yang Xin Fu, MD, PhD
  • Viral oncolytic therapy for metastasis. Investigators: Bernard Roizman, DSc, Ralph Weichselbaum, MD
  • Treatment of pneumonitis, a potential side effect in the treatment of oligometastasis with radiation, and the role vascular lekage in the spread of malignant tumors. Investigators: J.N. Garcia, MD, Steve Dudek, MD, Viswanathan Natarajan, PhD, Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, David Grdina, PhD
  • Molecular basis and novel treatments for the resistance of metastasis to DNA damaging agents. Investigators: Stephen Kron, MD, PhD



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