Research

The Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Transplantation has a long and rich tradition of excellence in research in hematology, oncology, and transplantation. Our faculty are leaders or members of the Masonic Cancer Center, an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center dedicated to cancer research, education, and patient care for the citizens of Minnesota and the surrounding region. Faculty members are engaged in a wide spectrum of research from basic science to clinical trials to outcomes research. The primary goal of our research is to understand the molecular basis of disease and translate these advances to improved patient care through innovative clinical trials. Comprised of nationally and internationally recognized physicians and scientists, faculty in our Division are organized into four subspecialty Sections: 
Medical Oncology
The Section of Medical Oncology, led by Anne Blaes, MD, has active laboratory and clinical research programs related to common solid tumor malignancies. Our faculty specialize in basic science and clinical research in breast, lung, gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract, and other solid tumors. Our faculty are heavily involved in collaborative research focused on the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer and applying that knowledge to improve the quality of life for patients and survivors.  Key initiatives of our research are to identify personalized treatment regimens tailored to a patient’s specific cancer and to develop strategies to help prevent the long-term complications of treatments in our cancer survivors, particularly in the areas of cardiovascular health. 
 
Malignant Hematology
The Section of Malignant Hematology is headed by Veronika Bachanova, MD. Our clinical faculty provide specialized expertise for patients with hematologic malignancies by delivering compassionate care combined with access to cutting-edge therapies and innovative clinical trials. Laboratory research is focused on investigations of the genetics and molecular mechanisms that drive hematologic malignancies to provide a foundation for the development of novel therapeutic approaches. Clinical and translational research are supported by the Hematologic Malignancy Tissues Bank, a comprehensively annotated bio-repository of primary marrow and blood samples, and clinical data dashboards that organize patient data from various laboratory and clinical sources. In addition, faculty investigations focus on the use of immunologic, biologic, genetic, and clinical biomarkers that can predict toxicity with cancer therapy and select patients who are most likely to respond to treatment.  Working closely with the Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapies Program, our faculty have expertise in design and development of new cellular and immunotherapies, including phase I/II trials of CAR T-cell therapies and natural killer cellular therapies for the treatment of lymphoma, myeloma, acute leukemia’s, and other hematologic malignancies.  
 
Non-Malignant Hematology
The Section of Non-Malignant Hematology, led by Gregory Vercellotti, MD, offers expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of a broad spectrum of non-malignant blood disorders. Our nationally recognized faculty have a diverse range of research interests from laboratory-based and population sciences to clinical trials and outcome studies. Our faculty are engaged in laboratory-based research on endothelial biology, iron metabolism and iron deficiency, myeloproliferative neoplasms, and the pathobiology of sickle cell disease. Our clinical faculty are actively engaged in novel institutional and multi-institutional clinical trials with strong basic correlative science.  Key areas of clinical research include gene therapies for sickle cell disease and thalassemia, heritable and acquired clotting and bleeding disorders, transfusion medicine, thrombosis, hemophilia, porphyria, thrombotic microangiopathy, and other hematologic disorders. Many clinical trials are currently open and available to our patients. By conducting rigorous and innovative laboratory and clinical research, our hematologists are committed to improving the health and safety of patients with non-malignant blood diseases.
 
Blood and Marrow Transplantation
The Section of Blood and Marrow Transplantation is headed by Claudio Brunstein, MD. Faculty are members of the Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (BMTCT) Program, one of the oldest and largest in the world. Nearly 300 transplants and cell infusions are performed each year under the guidance of 15 Internal Medicine faculty members and in collaboration with the Pediatrics BMT faculty. The Adult BMTCT Program is a highly research-oriented program encompassing laboratory-based research, clinical trials, and outcome studies. Jeffrey Miller, MD, leads the Natural Killer (NK) Cell Program focused on NK cells and their role in transplant. Faculty are engaged in research activities related to stem cell and transplant biology, novel transplantation strategies, hematopoiesis, immune therapy, and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).  GVHD is a life-threatening complication of allogeneic stem cell transplantation, and our faculty are developing selective immune suppression strategies that effectively prevent GVHD while maintaining essential T cell responses needed to preserve graft-versus-leukemia (GVL). Additionally, faculty are engaged in efforts to improve post-transplant toxicities, outcomes, and long-term effects among cancer survivors.