Leader: David Carbone, MD, PhD

The Translational Therapeutics Program (TTP) is one of five trans-disciplinary, highly collaborative research programs at the OSUCCC – James. Within this context, it has a history of high-impact science.

The program focuses on solid tumors and continues to grow through strategic recruitment and program development. It includes 58 investigators from 22 academic departments in six of The Ohio State University’s 14 colleges. Multiple members have programmatic grants with inter-program collaborations and training grants.

It is the only center in the country to have both an NCI P01 and SPORE grants in sarcoma.

Key Program Objectives

  • Identify genomic and signaling pathway alterations in solid tumors for the development of targeted therapeutics
  • Identify targetable tumor-host interactions mediated by macromolecules and extracellular vesicles
  • Develop biomarkers in solid tumors for prognosis and selection of therapy
  • Develop collaborations that lead to multiple programmatically funded projects in target cancer types

Program Strengths and Attributes

  • NCI contracts that support phase I and phase II clinical trials
  • The new James Cancer Hospital, the patient-care component of the OSUCCC – James, tightly integrates research and patient care; e.g., wet and dry translational research labs are located on alternating patient floors
  • Strong emphasis on cancer genomics research and clinical care, including a Precision Cancer Medicine Clinic
  • 21 Shared Resources provide specialized services that support development of novel therapies
  • A focus of microRNA expertise
  • Translational oncolytic virus research
  • The Wright Center of Innovation in Biomedical Imaging at Ohio State—offers animal imaging, microimaging and molecular-agent imaging
  • The Drug Development Institute at Ohio State—facilitates the development and licensing of agents that have commercial potential
  • Broad opportunities for trans-campus collaboration—The Ohio State University is a land-grant university with 14 colleges located on a single campus, offering rich opportunities for collaboration. OSUCCC – James members come from a range of Ohio State colleges:
    • Medicine
    • Pharmacy
      • NCI-grant supported natural-products discovery program;
      • Computational drug-development expertise
  • Nursing
  • Public Health
  • Dentistry
  • Veterinary Medicine 
    • Canine clinical trials program
  • Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
    • Food processing facilities and Sensory Analysis Lab
    • Functional foods expertise
  • Arts and Sciences
  • Engineering
    • Nanotechnology
  • Business
  • Law
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Battelle Memorial Institute
  • Proximity to Ohio Supercomputer Center
  • A culture of mentoring—Senior faculty mentor junior faculty to help them obtain their first research grant.

TTP Cancer Focus

  • Lung
  • Sarcoma
  • Glioblastoma
  • Pancreatic
  • Biliary
  • Colorectal
  • Cervical
  • Head and Neck
  • Liver
  • Breast

Key Grants

Network Lead Academic Participating Site for the NCI National Clinical Trials Network (U10 CA180850)
PI: John Byrd, MD; Arnab Chakravarti, MD; David Cohn, MD, Electra Paskett, PhD


  • Investigate new therapeutic agents in phase I clinical trials
  • Evaluate novel drug combinations and multi-modal therapies
  • Design protocols that integrate molecular genetics, biochemistry, pharmacology, immunology and biostatistics
  • Maximize targeted therapy efficacy by exploiting tumor heterogeneity
  • Improve the management of cancer-related symptoms
  • Train the next generation of oncology researchers, physicians, nurses and allied medical personnel

SARC sarcoma SPORE (CA168512)


  • Provide the infrastructure for collaboration on translational research for sarcoma
  • Determine the biological basis for observations made in individuals with sarcoma
  • Develop novel treatments to improve sarcoma outcomes

Scientific Accomplishments

  • Agents that target altered signaling pathways: MEK1/2 in biliary cancer
  • Host-tumor interaction: NK cells in glioblastoma multiforme for oncolytic therapy
  • Biomarkers for diagnosis and selection of therapy (miR-based detection of nanoparticle technology, FANCD2, ARAF detection by deep sequencing, and other driver mutations by precision sequencing.)

Onalespib could be an effective treatment for Glioblastoma. Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and deadly form of brain cancer, and more-effective drugs are needed to treat the disease. This preclinical study showed that the targeted inhibitor onalespib is long-lasting, crosses the blood-brain barrier and is more effective when combined with temozolomide, a chemotherapy drug used for brain-tumor treatment. The findings support the development of onalespib as a promising treatment for GBM.

PI: Vinay Puduvalli, MD
Published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research

Loss of microRNA-122 in liver cells leads to liver cancer. The study, led by OSUCCC – James researchers, found that deleting mouse Mir122 resulted in hepatosteatosis, hepatitis, and the development of tumors resembling hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The molecular regulates cholesterol metabolism and promotes hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. The study showed that delivering miR-122 to a mouse model of HCC strongly inhibited tumor development. The findings suggest that developing a drug that restores microRNA-122 levels might offer a new way to treat for certain HCC patients.

PI: Kalpana Ghoshal, PhD
Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation with an accompanying commentary

Candidate driver mutation identified in lung-cancer trial “super responder”. A multi-institutional study led by OSUCCC – James researchers describes a patient with advanced adenocarcinoma of the lung who was treated with sorafenib while on a clinical trial. Of 306 patients in the trial, 3 percent responded to sorafenib. One patient had a complete response that last for five years. She had been headed for hospice care when she entered the trial. They engineered the mutation into normal lung cells and showed that this abnormal gene formed tumors, and that the tumors were inhibited by sorafenib. They identified the same mutation in 1 percent of an independent group of lung cancer cases. The findings were an example of a candidate-activating mutation that can be therapeutically targeted.

Senior author: David Carbone, MD, PhD
Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation

Precision cancer medicine protocol evaluates a mechanism for using tumor sequencing and sequence results in patients with advanced or refractory cancer. The study includes high-depth molecular tumor analysis, and a precision tumor board that recommends patients to clinical trials with molecular eligibility for targeted inhibitors (PI3K, RET, RAF, FGFR and ALK). Data from this study will be used for basic, translational and clinical research.

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