Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)

Phoenix, Arizona
Physician in Chief and Distinguished Professor, TGen
Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
Professor of Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine
Chief Scientific Officer, Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare

Research

Dr. Von Hoff is a pioneer and world leader in translational medicine, accelerating novel drug discoveries from the laboratory to cancer treatments in clinical trials. He has personally been involved in over 200 clinical trials. In 1985, when his NFCR grant support began, his research led to the first approved treatment for pancreatic cancer, the chemotherapy gemcitabine. Resistance to pancreatic cancer therapies results in poor survival. His current research involves developing precision therapies for pancreatic cancer patients, by identifying the role of different pancreatic cancer cell populations in resistance to therapy.

Recently, he discovered that pancreatic tumors express scar-forming cells called fibroblasts that protect cancer cells from immune system attack. This has furthered our understanding of signaling pathways in the tumor microenvironment to exploit and make tumors more susceptible to attack and cell death. Dr. Von Hoff’s team identified one such pathway, known as the EMT pathway, that makes tumor cells more aggressive and resistant to many chemotherapeutics. He also discovered that pancreatic cancer cells expressing the EMT pathway respond better to a sequential regimen of chemotherapy and an EMT inhibitor. Dr. Von Hoff demonstrated that first treating patients with chemotherapy resulted in killing most pancreatic cancer cells and subsequent treatment with EMT inhibitors killed the remaining drug resistant EMT-positive pancreatic cancer cells. His laboratory is currently developing this regimen for a clinical trial to provide precision oncology therapy for pancreatic cancer patients.

Bio

Daniel Von Hoff, M.D., attended Carroll College and Columbia University before conducting his residency in internal medicine at UC San Francisco. After that, he had a fellowship in oncology at the National Cancer Institute before joining the faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center as a professor of medicine and cellular and structural biology. Dr. Von Hoff went on to become the founding director of the Institute for Drug Development at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center and director of the cancer center at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Von Hoff’s major interest is in the development of new anticancer agents, both in the clinic and in the laboratory.

Throughout his career, Dr. Von Hoff has published more than 650 papers, 140 book chapters and 1,000 abstracts. Dr. Von Hoff was selected as a 2016 Giant of Cancer Care® by OncLive, honored with the Scripps Genomic Medicine Award in 2011, named one of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 50 Oncology Luminaries in 2014 and among the first class selected in 2013 by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for its Fellows of the AACR Academy.

In addition to leading the NFCR Center for New Therapy Development (2001-2006) and the NFCR Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies (2007-2017), Dr. Von Hoff was appointed to President Bush’s National Cancer Advisory Board from 2004-2010, is the past President of AACR, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member and past board member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.  He is also the founder and the Editor Emeritus of Investigational New Drugs – The Journal of New Anticancer Agents and past Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Related Content

What is Genomic Sequencing, and Who Can Benefit?

There’s a paradigm shift taking place in the world of cancer treatment. Experts are moving away from an organ-focused approach to treatment, like using radiation to treat the specific area affected by cancer. Instead, they’re looking at genomic sequencing.  Genomics is the branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of an individual’s genes. Regarding cancer, genomics allows experts to examine DNA to determine an individual’s risk of cancer through genomic sequencing. This means that oncologists can provide more individualized treatment options for patients using precision medicine.  How can cancer risk be determined through genomic sequencing? Parents pass along many traits to their children, such as hair and eye color. Unfortunately, the risk of developing certain types of cancer can also pass along. By examining DNA, experts can identify certain changes in a person’s DNA known for increasing their risk of developing various types of cancer. However, not all cancers pass genetically. In fact, only five to ten percent of all cancers are believed to have an inherited gene mutation. It is important to note that no test can provide exact answers about a person’s inherited cancer risk. Genetic testing can tell whether a specific genetic mutation exists in the DNA. However, it cannot tell whether an individual will develop the disease associated with that mutation later in life or not. What is the benefit of genomic sequencing? Genomic sequencing cannot prevent a cancer diagnosis but can help identify cancer-related DNA mutations. This means an individual can implement precautionary measures. These measures could include making healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, ceasing smoking, or reducing alcohol consumption. Depending on the type of mutation, medications may be available to reduce one’s risk of developing cancer. Similarly, genomic sequencing may highlight the option of surgery to remove an organ or gland to prevent cancer from forming or promote undergoing more health screenings regularly.  Who should utilize genomic sequencing? Experts typically only recommend genetic sequencing for patients whose families have a history of certain cancers or patterns of cancer. Doctors may order genetic testing for people that have: Multiple first-degree relatives with cancer diagnoses; Numerous relatives who have been diagnosed with the same cancer on one side of the family; A family history of cancers linked to a single gene mutation, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or pancreatic cancer; Family member(s) who has been diagnosed with more than one type of cancer; Family member(s) who has been diagnosed with cancer at a younger age than typically seen for that cancer, such as colon cancer; Close relatives who have been diagnosed with cancers linked to rare hereditary cancer syndromes, such as Hereditary Breast & Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC), Cowden Syndrome, or Lynch Syndrome; or Family member(s) who has been diagnosed with rare cancer, such as breast cancer in a male. Can we expect more research in genomic sequencing?  National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) is committed to advancing genomic research and its potential to be the future of developing treatment plans for cancer patients. As such, NFCR funds a dozen world-renowned researchers paving the way in genomic research. […]

Improved Oxygenation in Tumors Could Lead to Better Treatment Outcomes

Breast Cancer Survivors Need to Take Actions to Reduce Their Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease