Michelle Rudek runs the Kimmel Cancer Center’s Analytical Pharmacology Core. Like other drug discovery laboratories, Rudek leads a team that conducts tests to see how promising new drugs travel through the body; how they are absorbed, distributed and metabolized; how long they stay in the body; and ultimately what effect they have on cancer cells. However, Rudek’s lab is different from others in that it supports cancer drug discovery throughout the Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins and beyond, with as many as 90 projects with varying degrees of complexity ongoing at any time. She and Michael Carducci lead the lab’s role in testing drugs being used in the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network, and her lab also supports NCI’s Adult Brain Tumor Consortium and AIDS Malignancy Consortium.
Rudek’s personal research is focused on helping cancer patients who have other health conditions. She deciphers and manages drug interactions and dosing so that cancer patients taking medications for other health conditions, such as AIDS malignancies, or who have liver or other organ dysfunction can safely receive cancer drugs. “It’s so rewarding,” says Rudek, who is one of the few drug experts doing this kind of work. “We’re changing the standard of care for these patients and making it possible for more patients to participate in cancer clinical trials.” Rudek was recently honored with the NCI’s Michaele Christian Oncology Development Lectureship and Award. The award recognizes her leadership role in translational research and clinical pharmacology in early-phase clinical trials and special populations. She is the first non-physician recipient.