Ronald Buckanovich, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Internal Medicine
Division of Hematology Oncology
Division of Gynecologic Oncology
University of Michigan
Cancer stem cells are the cause of tumor initiation and recurrence. The focus of Dr. Buckanovich’s work revolves around the development of novel treatments targeting cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are inherently resistant to chemotherapy and are the primary cause of cancer recurrences. He has taken several approaches to target cancer stem cells. First, cancer stem cells reside in close association with tumor blood vessel cells. His lab is developing immune based therapies that can specifically kill tumor blood vessels. As tumor blood vessels provide essential growth signals to cancer stem cells, killing tumor blood vessels indirectly targets cancer stem cells. His laboratory has identified several drugs that directly target cancer stem cells; one which blocks the ability of cancer stem cells to grow and a second which poisons a protein made only by cancer stem cells. Because these drugs specifically target cancer stem cells, they have few side effects. These simple and safe drugs make traditional chemotherapies twenty times more effective.
In addition to his laboratory studies, Dr. Buckanovich has a busy clinical practice, specializing in the treatment of ovarian and uterine cancers. He is actively involved in clinical trials testing new therapeutics in ovarian cancer and is planning additional trials testing the effects of new agents targeting ovarian cancer stem cells.
He was recently awarded the exclusive National Institutes of Health ‘New Innovator’ Directors Award, an award given to only 30 scientists a year. Similarly he received the Clinical Investigator Award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. In addition, his lab work was recognized by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology with the Best Basic Science Award and Gynecologic Cancer Foundation’s Carol’s Cause Award. Most recently, Dr. Buckanovich was inducted into the highly prestigious American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI); an honor society of physician-scientists who translate laboratory findings to advance clinical practice.