Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Prostate Cancer SPORE Research Team

The Prostate SPORE Investigators meeting is held virtually from from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. All SPORE members are required to attend. For more information, please contact Robin Leikin, PhD at rleikin@northwestern.edu.

Sarki Abdulkadir, MD, PhD

Sarki Abdulkadir, MD, PhD

Dr. Abdulkadir is SPORE PI and the John T. Grayhack, MD Professor in Urological Research and Professor in Urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He directs an active research program in the molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer development, advanced animal models, and novel targeted therapeutics. Dr. Abdulkadir collaborates with Drs. Hussain, Catalona, Stadler, Yu and Chakravarti in the SPORE.

William Catalona, MD

William Catalona, MD

Dr. Catalona is Co-Director of SPORE Career Enhancement Program and Professor of Urology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.  He is the former SPORE PI and focuses his research on studying the genetics of prostate cancer and identifying SNPs that predict aggressive disease which could lead to new tests for the disease as well as possible new means of treating or preventing prostate cancer. He also specializes in prostate cancer surgery.

Michael Gurley

Michael Gurley

Michael Gurley is a Systems Analyst/Programmer with the Northwestern Biomedical Informatics Center (NUBIC). Michael is the software developer responsible for developing the clinical and specimen inventory databases of the SPORE in Prostate Cancer. He has developed a system to ease the workflow of requesting, approving and disbursing requests for specimens and/or clinical data from the SPORE in Prostate Cancer. 

Irene Helenowski, PhD

Irene Helenowski, PhD

Dr. Helenowski is a statistical analyst for the SPORE in Prostate Cancer and a Biostatistician for the Department of Surgery in the Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Helenowski provides statistical guidance to SPORE project leaders under the guidance of Dr. Borko Jovanovic. She is working closely with Jennifer Doll, PhD and Timothy Kuzel to prepare several manuscripts.

Brian T. Helfand, MD, PhD

Brian T. Helfand, MD, PhD

Dr. Helfand is Clinical Associate Professor of Urology at NorthShore University HealthSystem.   His main clinical and research interests are focused on the genetics of prostate cancer and urologic diseases. Dr. Helfand is a member of the Prostate InterSPORE Genetics Working Group and has participated in SPORE collaborations with deCODE Genetics.    

Maha Hussain, MD

Maha Hussain, MD

Dr. Hussain is SPORE PI and joined the Lurie Cancer Center in September 2016 as the new deputy director.  Dr. Hussain is responsible for the oversight of all cancer-related clinical research throughout the Lurie Cancer Center.  She oversees the development and coordination of the cancer center’s established clinical science research programs and has oversight of Clinical Protocol Review and Monitoring and Clinical Protocol Data Monitoring.   She assists the Director in establishing the overall strategic direction, policy, and priorities of the cancer center. Dr. Hussain’s research is focused on novel therapeutics through the design and conduct of clinical trials for metastatic prostate cancer. 

Masha Kocherginsky, PhD

Masha Kocherginsky, PhD

Dr. Kocherginsky is Professor in the Division of Biostatistics in the Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She is the Director of the Quantitative Data Sciences Core (QDSC) at Lurie Cancer Center, and the lead statistician for several large studies, including prostate cancer clinical trials led by Dr. Maha Hussain.  Dr. Kocherginsky serves as co-Director of the SPORE Biostatistics/Bioinformatics Core.

Chung Lee, PhD

Chung Lee, PhD

Dr. Lee is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Urology and an Emeritus member of the SPORE. Dr. Lee served as SPORE PI from 2001 to 2013. His research focus was on the biology of prostate cancer, with a particular focus on TGF-beta signaling and development of immunotherapy for treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Dr. Lee collaborated  with multiple SPORE faculty during his tenure at Northwestern University.
Robin Leikin, PhD

Robin Leikin, PhD

Dr. Leikin is Scientific Program Director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and SPORE Scientific Administrator since 2001, responsible for integrating the SPORE projects, cores, developmental research and career development programs. She works closely with the SPORE PIs to manage the day-to-day SPORE Program operations. In this capacity, Dr. Leikin interacts with all SPORE investigators. Dr. Leikin also helps organize inter-SPORE-sponsored meetings and raises funds for TEAM SPORE participation in the annual US Too Sea Blue Chicago Prostate Cancer walk. 

Adam B. Murphy, MD, MBA

Adam B. Murphy, MD, MBA

Dr. Murphy is an Assistant Professor of Urology in the Feinberg School of Medicine. He is mentored by SPORE PI, Dr. Catalona, on his DOD funded study evaluating the role of vitamin D status and related genetic polymorphisms on prostate cancer aggressiveness. He also is investigating the value of Prostate Health Index (PHI) in the African American population. Dr. Murphy collaborates with Drs. Schaeffer and Catalona.
Akash Patnaik, MD, PhD

Akash Patnaik, MD, PhD

Akash Patnaik, MD, PhD, is a medical oncologist physician scientist at the University of Chicago specializing in the care of patients with genitourinary cancers, including prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancers. He also has a strong interest in the development of novel therapeutics for treatment of advanced prostate cancer with a focus on targeting DNA repair pathways and he directs a laboratory that studies the tumor immune microenvironment.

Edward Schaeffer, MD, PhD

Edward Schaeffer, MD, PhD

Dr. Schaeffer is Edmund Andrews Professor and Chair of Urology at Feinberg School of Medicine.  In addition to an active clinical practice in urology, Dr. Schaeffer leads a research laboratory that studies the molecular biology of lethal prostate cancer, with a particular focus on androgen receptor activity.  Dr. Schaeffer collaborates with Drs. Abdulkadir, Wu and Murphy.

Daniel Shevrin, MD

Daniel Shevrin, MD

Dr. Shevrin is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, and a Senior Attending in the Section of Hematology/Oncology at NorthShore University HealthSystem.  He works closely with the SPORE advocates to promote SPORE activities in the community and he serves as Community Co-Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN GU Committee.  

Walter Stadler, MD

Walter Stadler, MD

Dr. Stadler is Fred C. Buffett Professor of Medicine and Dean for Clinical Research at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Stadler's research focus is on development of novel predictive biomarkers for advanced and metastatic prostate cancer. In addition to treating patients with advanced prostate cancer, he continues to design and conduct phase I, II, and III clinical trials at University of Chicago. He has served as mentor for several investigators supported by the Prostate Cancer Foundation and DOD Prostate Cancer Training awards.  

Russell Szmulewitz, MD

Russell Szmulewitz, MD

Dr. Szmulewitz is Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago. He obtained his MD degree from the University of Chicago and completed fellowship training at the same institution following residency at NYU Medical Center. In addition to his clinical research focus on treating men with advanced prostate cancer, Dr. Szmulewitz directs a laboratory that studies prostate cancer progression in animal models and in vitro. He has recently developed a novel technology to isolate and study markers on circulating cells from men with advanced prostate cancer.

C. Shad Thaxton, MD, PhD

C. Shad Thaxton, MD, PhD

Dr. Thaxton is an Associate Professor of Urology in the Feinberg School of Medicine.   Dr. Thaxton is a member of the International Institute of Nanotechnology (IIN), and the Institute for BioNanotechnology and Medicine (IBNAM). Dr. Thaxton’s laboratory focuses on the synthesis of therapeutic nanostructures, drug delivery, and lipid metabolism.   More specifically, Dr. Thaxton is investigating how synthetic, biomimetic nanostructures can be used to systemically deliver nucleic acid therapies to castrate resistant prostate cancer.   Dr. Thaxton is the co-founder of AuraSense and AuraSense Therapeutics, two start-up biotechnology companies poised to more rapidly develop therapeutic nanostructures, potentially ones for advanced prostate cancer.  

Jian-Jun Wei, MD

Jian-Jun Wei, MD

Jian-Jun Wei, MD is a Surgical Pathologist at (NMH), Professor of Pathology, and Director of the Pathology Core Facility of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Dr. Wei completed residency and fellowship training at New York University School of Medicine and is board certified in Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology. As Director of the Pathology Core Facility and co-director of the Biospecimen Pathology Core, Dr. Wei serves as liaison between the SPORE and the Pathology Core Facility to ensure that the two core facilities operate optimally and do not duplicate resources and services. He works with Dr. Yang to support SPORE projects with respect to their biospecimen, pathology and immunohistochemistry needs. Dr. Wei’s major research interests are on identification of molecular biomarkers that are associated with tumor growth and progression.

Jennifer Wu, PhD

Jennifer Wu, PhD

Dr. Wu is Mary and Patrick Scanlan Professor of Urology at Feinberg School of Medicine.  She directs an active research laboratory studying a class of MHC I chain (MIC) like molecules on the surface of prostate cells that signal and activate the immune system. In prostate cancer, tumor cells shed the surface MIC to produce soluble MIC (sMIC) and an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Dr. Wu has developed a monoclonal antibody to MIC that she is advancing to a first in human clinical trial.  Dr. Wu collaborates with Drs. Sosman, Morgans, Abdulkadir and Schaeffer.

Jianfeng Xu, MD, DrPH

Jianfeng Xu, MD, DrPH

Dr. Xu was recently recruited from Wake Forest University School of Medicine to NorthShore University HealthSystem to become the new Vice President of Translational Research. Dr. Xu obtained his MD from Shanghai Medical University and his doctorate of public health in genetic epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. His primary research interests are 1) discovery of inherited and somatic genetic alterations that are associated with development and progression of prostate cancer, and 2) translation of genomic findings for targeted prevention, screening, and treatment of prostate cancer. Dr. Xu collaborates with SPORE investigators Drs. Charles Brendler, William Catalona, Brian Helfand and Karen Kaul.

Ximing Yang, MD, PhD

Ximing Yang, MD, PhD

Dr. Yang is Professor in the Department of Pathology at Northwestern University. He is an expert prostate pathologist who has supported the SPORE's specimen needs for over 10 years. Dr. Yang contributes to the quality control of the SPORE specimen bank and works closely with members of the SPORE Biospeciman Database Committee to review and guide specimen requests.

Jindan Yu, MD, PhD

Jindan Yu, MD, PhD

Dr. Yu is Professor of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine in the Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Yu was previously trained in the laboratory of Dr. Arul M. Chinnaiyan, the PI of the prostate cancer SPORE of the University of Michigan.  At Northwestern University, Dr. Yu is actively engaged in the Prostate SPORE and has collaborated or is in collaboration with SPORE team members. Dr Yu's research is supported by the NIH, Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and the Department of Defense (DOD).

Bin Zhang, MD, PhD

Bin Zhang, MD, PhD

Dr. Zhang is Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Zhang's research focuses on the interactions between cancer cells and immune system in the tumor microenvironment and development of novel cancer immunotherapeutics. Dr. Zhang works closely with SPORE team members Timothy Kuzel, MD and Chung Lee, PhD on SPORE projects.

Jonathan Zhao, MD, MS

Jonathan Zhao, MD, MS

Dr. Jonathan Zhao is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine – Hematology/Oncology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He is PI of an NCI-funded R50 that utilizes bioinformatics analyses to understand castration-resistant prostate cancer. Dr. Zhao serves as Co-Director of the Biostatistics/Bioinformatics Core and will provide bioinformatic support for SPORE projects that generate large datasets.