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Neurology and Neurosurgery

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Spinal Oncology Laboratory for Translational Molecular Genetics

The bony skeleton is one of the most common sites of metastatic spread of cancer and a significant source of morbidity in cancer patients, causing pain and pathological fracture, impaired ambulatory ability and poorer quality of life.

In our continuous investigation of the mechanism of metastasis in spine tumors and of developing animal models and treatments, our team seeks to understand how cancer cells metastasize to the bony spine.

Animal cancer models of skeletal metastases are essential for:

  • Better understanding of the molecular pathways behind metastatic spread and local growth and invasion of bone
  • Analysis of host-tumor cell interactions
  • Identification of barriers to the metastatic process
  • Platforms to develop and test novel therapies before clinical application in human patients

So, the ideal animal model should be clinically relevant, reproducible and representative of the human condition. With this in mind, our laboratory develops novel techniques to evaluate our animal models of metastatic spine disease, such as:

  • Gait locomotion quantitative analysis
  • Correlation of tumor growth with hind limbs function
  • Evaluation of nociception in rats harboring spine tumors by using pain response to noxious stimulus
  • Imaging analyses such as bioluminescence and NanoSPECT/CT to detect cancer cell metastasis

We have the unique opportunity to collect human patient samples from the operating room and use them in our research to understand how primary cancers such as melanoma and breast, prostate and lung cancer behave in an immunosuppressed animal.

Explore our research projects.

Our Research Team

Principal Investigator

Photo of Dr. Daniel Michael Sciubba, M.D.

Sciubba, Daniel Michael, M.D.

Professor of Neurosurgery
Professor of Oncology
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences
Director, Spine Tumor and Spine Deformity Surgery
Co-Director, Spinal Column Biomechanics and Surgical Outcomes
Director, Spine Research
 

Neurosurgery Research Residents

Erick Westbroek

Erick Westbroek, M.D.

Daniel Lubelski

Daniel Lubelski, M.D.

Camilo Molina

Camilo Molina, M.D.

Medical Students

  • Zach Pennington
  • A. Karim Ahmed
  • Ethan Cottrill
  • Jeff Ehresman
  • Andrew Schilling