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Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
University of Pennsylvania, 1991, V.M.D., Ph.D.
Office phone: 612-625-7436
Lab phone: 612-626-6890
Dr. Modiano completed his veterinary training and PhD in Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (1984-1991), followed by a residency in Veterinary Clinical Pathology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO (1991-1993), and a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, CO. He was Assistant Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology at Texas A&M University between 1995 and 1999, returned to Denver from 1999 to 2007, where he held Scientist and Senior Scientist appointments at the AMC Cancer Research Center and was Associate Professor of Immunology and Full Member of the Cancer Center at the School of Medicine of the University of Colorado, Denver. Between 2001 and 2003, Dr. Modiano served as Director of Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy for the Donald Monk Cancer Research Foundation; he also is a partner at Veterinary Research Associates, LLP, a company focused on development and implementation of diagnostics for veterinary medicine and a founder/scientist at ApopLogic Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on development of cancer therapeutics. In July of 2007, Dr. Modiano joined the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, where he continues his research program as Professor of Comparative Oncology holding the Al and June Perlman Endowed Chair.
Modiano Lab Research Emphasis
The focus of my laboratory has been to understand cell growth regulation in the context of cancer pathogenesis, fostering an environment that spans basic to translational research.
Cancer Genetics: As part of large, multi-institutional collaborations, we have documented breed-specific risk factors for canine lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. We also have identified evolutionarily conserved, cancer-associated genomic changes cancer in humans and companion animals. Current efforts in this area are aimed at defining mechanisms responsible for cancer-specific mutations as well as conserved gene-environment interactions.
Cancer Immunology and Tumor-Microenvironment Interactions: It is now apparent that interactions between the tumor and its microenvironment are essential for tumor progression and tumor control. Our work is focused on understanding how altering specific components of the tumor microenvironment can respectively enhance tumor growth and survival or promote anti-tumor immunity, and thus delay or prevent progression and metastasis. Current efforts are aimed at understanding the role of innate immune factors in tumor engraftment and survival, as well as the contribution of stromal elements to the tumor immunosuppressive barrier.
Diagnostic Development: The extensive heterogeneity present within and among tumors presents a major contemporary challenge for effective cancer management. To overcome this, we have dedicated significant effort to develop robust schemes to classify tumors according to their biological behavior. We have used cellular, immunologic, and molecular tools, including genome-wide platforms and innovative bioinformatics, to design practical tests for tumor classification and monitoring. Several tests are the subject of patents and have been licensed for commercialization. Our ongoing work in this area seeks to improve on existing tests and on development of new predictive biomarkers that will help clinicians tailor patient-specific treatment strategies.
Therapeutic development: We have taken advantage of the conserved molecular signatures in spontaneous tumors of domestic animals to test new and innovative, targeted therapies. These studies include target validation in the laboratory, as well as pre-clinical and clinical development in our tumor-bearing veterinary patient populations. Recent and ongoing trials include evaluation of (1) gene-based immunotherapy platforms, (2) genetically engineered, ligand-targeted toxins, (3) enhanced anti-tumor immunity through passive immunotherapy, (4) small molecules, and (5) targeted nanoparticles for gene delivery.
These different aspects of work have been funded by the NIH and by various non-profit foundations. They include ongoing collaborations with scientists within and outside the United States.