Two Noted Cancer Researchers Join The Wistar Institute Faculty

Two Noted Cancer Researchers Join The Wistar Institute Faculty

April 30, 2013

The Wistar Institute announces the recruitment of Dmitry I. Gabrilovich, M.D., Ph.D., and Yulia Nefedova, M.D., Ph.D., who will join the faculty of Wistar’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. Gabrilovich studies the interaction between tumors and the immune system with an eye toward the creation of vaccines against cancer. Nefedova studies multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells that produce antibodies.  Both researchers join Wistar from the faculty of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.

“The Gabrilovich and Nefedova laboratories will mesh well with our Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis program, broadening the overall skills and expertise of the Institute's brain trust,” said Dario C. Altieri, M.D., Wistar’s chief scientific officer and director of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center. “Dmitry and Yulia will each bring a mature, well-supported research program to Wistar, and I predict that we will see many fruitful collaborations emerge between their labs and our existing faculty."

The recruitment of Gabrilovich and Nefedova was made possible in part through a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Dmitry I. Gabrilovich, M.D., Ph.D.

Gabrilovich was appointed professor in the Cancer Center’s Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis program. His work focuses on a number of methods that tumors use to suppress the immune system, and on the development of new, effective vaccines to kill tumors. 

In particular, the Gabrilovich laboratory studies how tumors interact with dendritic cells of the immune system. Normally, these dendritic cells would serve to alert the immune system to the presence of tumors and elicit an anti-tumor response. Tumors, however, can emit chemical signals that alter dendritic cell behavior. Gabrilovich investigates the nature of these signals, and how they affect dendritic cells, in order to develop new therapeutic strategies that counteract these signals.

Gabrilovich also has a long track record of translational development--collaborating with physicians on clinical trials that serve to apply scientific findings to patient medicine. His efforts to affect cancer care also include pre-clinical development of a vaccine that targets tumors that exhibit survivin, a protein that allows cells to evade the natural cellular mechanisms that control cancerous growth.

He has co-authored 180 journal articles, many in top-tier scientific publications.

Gabrilovich was educated in Russia, earning his medical degree at Kabardino-Balkarian State University Medical School in the city of Nalchik in 1984, and his Ph.D. in immunology in 1989 at the Central Institute of Epidemiology in Moscow. Gabrilovich joined the faculty of the Moffitt Cancer Center in 2000.

Yulia Nefedova, M.D., Ph.D.

Nefedova was appointed assistant professor in the Cancer Center’s Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis program. The Nefedova laboratory is interested in the molecular mechanisms that enable tumor cells to interact with their microenvironment--the conditions in which cancer cells and the surrounding tissues operate. In particular, her focus is on the Notch signaling pathway in multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects 22,000 new patients each year, and kills over 10,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

Nefedova’s team has demonstrated experimentally how Notch and related proteins can trigger the ability of cancerous myeloma cells to resist chemotherapy. Currently, Nefedova and her colleagues continue to investigate strategies that target myeloma cells to enhance their sensitivity to chemotherapy.

Nefedova was also educated in Russia, graduating with an M.D. at State Medical University in St. Petersburg in 1993, and a Ph.D., in immunology from the same institution in 1999.

The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the country, Wistar has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. The Wistar Institute: Today’s Discoveries – Tomorrow’s Cures. On the Web at  www.wistar.org.