Hertlein Lab

The Hertlein Lab at the OSUCCC – James, led by cancer research expert and Principal Investigator Erin Hertlein, PhD, is dedicated to developing novel therapies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). These acclaimed experts are pioneering new therapies to work toward a cancer-free world.

There is no routine blood cancer, and today, cancer is no longer solely defined by location or stage. Each patient is different, with unique genetic biomarkers driving his or her cancer, and the Hertlein Lab is discovering new therapies aimed at individualizing cancer patients’ care – changing and directly impacting their lives.


At the OSUCCC – James, the Hertlein Lab is part of the Experimental Hematology Lab, and their mission is to pioneer new therapies for AML and CLL as well as get new therapies to patients, promoting faster recovery times and even better outcomes. 

According to Principal Investigator Erin Hertlein, PhD, it’s the patients who inspire this lab’s mission. The team’s scientists and researchers have met numerous patients who have used therapies developed in this very lab. Meeting those patients, they say, is an opportunity for the team to show their appreciation for the patients as well; these expert scientists and researchers rely on primary samples from patients who consent to research protocols and donate their tumor cells so these experts can pioneer new therapies.

The work to advance novel therapies for patients goes into every paper, grant and presentation the Hertlein Lab team writes and every project they embark upon, all with the goal of meaningful, successful, comprehensive care for every patient.

How We Do It

As part of the OSUCCC – James Experimental Hematology Lab, the Hertlein Lab team’s pioneering work directly impacts each patient’s care. Through preclinical work and new treatment developments, these internationally renowned experts are pushing for and driving new ideas and drugs to treat AML and CLL.

The Hertlein Lab’s preclinical work examines cell activity that leads to AML and CLL, helping the team to identify new therapies and to expand how they can approach treating diseases.

To deliver the most effective cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment, these researchers also follow the full process of developing life-saving drugs – from approvals to testing to administering to patients.

Who We Are

An integral part of the OSUCCC – James Experimental Hematology Lab – one of the largest leukemia research centers in the country – the Hertlein Lab is led by The Ohio State University research assistant professor Erin Hertlein, PhD, and comprises researchers from across numerous medical and research disciplines.

This diverse team of scientists includes talented researchers from multicultural backgrounds – all who strive to reach the highest level of accomplishments – making discoveries that ultimately change patients’ lives, all while also maintaining a humble demeanor, respecting each other and sharing knowledge. 

The Details

The OSUCCCC – James Hertlein Lab is dedicated to pioneering new therapies for AML and CLL. The lab focuses on therapies and drugs that target various metabolism pathways. 

High metabolic use is a characteristic of leukemia. By targeting that extra metabolic need the cells exhibit, these nationally acclaimed scientists and researchers can exploit the pathway that makes them proliferate quickly. 

The lab is also looking at epigenetic targeted therapies, specifically TET 2 and IDH 1 and 2, which regulate DNA methylation, and EZH 2, which regulates histone methylations.

Additionally, the Hertlein Lab is unique to the region and the nation, troubleshooting and implementing technology and even using advanced robotics to perform high-throughput drug screening, a unique screening performance that is available only at a few academic institutions nationwide. This allows these research experts to look for combination therapies, screening samples and cell lines for drug combinations that otherwise would be impossible to do by hand. 

The process also allows drug repurposing, an industry movement that allows taking FDA-approved drugs that have been approved for other diseases and repurposing them for a targeted disease, which can fast track the approval process and get therapies to patients more quickly.

Breakthroughs and Discoveries

At the OSUCCC – James, the Hertlein Lab is currently leading a clinical trial using an agent p90 inhibitor that may prove to be less toxic. In patients who start to show resistance to ibrutinib, researchers can introduce this new inhibitor during the clinical trial, proactively adding it to existing therapies rather than waiting for relapse – a novel concept not practiced anywhere else in the region.

Collaboration With Other Ohio State Labs and Research Teams: Grants and Drug Studies

When recruiting for the Hertlein Lab, the team looks for those who share the same ideals led by the mantra, “Patients first.” Though publishing papers and obtaining grants are important components to internationally known team’s work, they keep their primary mission as helping patients by offering improved, novel and new treatments.

When seeking collaborative partners, these lab experts emphasize the need for teamwork and not competition.


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