Biochemistry & Cancer Biology

News & Announcements 

New Faculty in JCCTR Newsletter

Two new faculty in the Dept. of Biochemistry & Cancer Biology have articles in the Jacobson Center for Clinical and Translational Research monthly newsletter.  Dr. Dayanidhi Raman, Assistant Professor, "How do chemotactic cytokines regulate breast cancer metastasis? Role of the CXCL12-CXCR4-LASP1 axis" in the April 2016 edition and Dr. Saori Furuta, Assistant Professor, "Normal epithelial cells have defense mechanisms against cancer" in the June 2016 edition.

2016 Graduate Student Research Forum

The 2016 Biomedical Sciences Graduate Student Research Forum was held on the University of Toledo Health Science Campus on March 17-18, 2016.  The event is organized annually by the Council of Biomedical Graduate Students of the UT Health Science Campus where the students are given the opportunity to present and discuss their work with fellow students and faculty.  The keynote address entitled "Bioengineered Technologies for Rapid Disease Diagnosis and Stem Cell Therapy" was presented by Weian Zhao, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Edwards Life Sciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, Irvine.

Kudos to Biochemistry & Cancer Biology students for placing at the 2016 Graduate Student Research Forum:

kdKaitlyn Dvorak, PhD candidate Eisenmann lab - 1st place oral presentation

"The tumor microenvironment drives tumor progression through an mDia2-mediated mechanism"



zlZehui Li, PhD candidate Maltese lab - 3rd place oral presentation 

"MOPIPP and Vacuolin-1 induce vacuolization and enhance the release of exosomes from GBM cells"



ncNicholas Cairl, MSBS Smas lab - 4th place poster presentation 

"Revealing the structural basis for RIFL's effects on Angpt1 proteins in lipid metabolism"




Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann Recognized by Toledo City Council

toledo city councilDr. Kathryn Eisenmann was recognized for her achievements in medical research at the March 1, 2016, Toledo City Council meeting. 

Resolution of Toledo City Council Recognizing Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann for her "efforts in finding ways to reduce the spread of cancer and make cancer treatment more effective"

WHEREAS, after being personally impacted upon the diagnosis of those close to her of glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer, she set out to find ways to fight this horrific illness; and

WHEREAS, she had spent countless hours researching better ways to treat the brain cancer glioblastoma as well as epithelial ovarian cancer; and 

WHEREAS, her dedication to identifying more effective treatment have lead to findings that show potential for a drug that will aid in the reduction of cancer progression; and 

WHEREAS, through her efforts, she has been able to gain the support of those around her and raise funds to further the research being completed by her team; and 

WHEREAS, the outcome of her previous research and surely her future research will have a positive impact on those effected by cancer for years to 
come; and 

ke recognitionWHEREAS, Toledo City Council recognizes the positive impact that Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann has had on the City of Toledo, and the scientific community throughout the world; and 

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Council of the City of Toledo that Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann is hereby recognized and commended for her tireless research to combat the spread of deadly cancer and Toledo City Council gives sincere wishes for continued success with her future research projects.

Sponsored by: Larry Sykes, Councilman

(Toledo City Council Facebook page)



Congratulations to Dr. William Maltese and Dr. Ivana de la Serna on receiving 2015 Dean's Awards for Research Excellence
(from the College of Medicine & Life Sciences webpage - Faculty Recognition 2015)

wmWilliam Maltese, Ph.D. - Research Leadership Award
Introduction by Kathryn Eisenmann, Ph.D.

This award had two main criteria – excellence in research productivity and finding, in addition leadership in mentoring of faculty, postdocs, and grad students. Towards research productivity and funding, Dr. Maltese has been awarded 23 R01 grants from NIH, including one R01 that was funded for 23 years straight, and amazing accomplishment in the current funding environment. He has 78 peer-reviewed publications in high profile journals, with more than 2000+ citations accumulated, indicating the strength of his work amongst his peers. Dr. Maltese was asked to serve as a standing member of study section (NIH Molecular Cancer Pathobiology), indicating clearly his strong standing and respect for his work within the field. 

Towards Leadership in Mentoring, this is truly where Dr. Maltese shines. There is an inherent sense of stability for Jr. Faculty in having Dr. Maltese a chairman as his tenure at UT is one of the longest. He is well respected as being fair and easily approachable, especially in guiding Jr. Faculty through the moments in mentoring that they never teach you in grad school or in postdoc – such as managing the interpersonal relationships within your lab culture. Dr. Maltese was instrumental in guiding 3 Jr. Faculty in 1 year to their first successful R01 awards, including Drs. De la Serna and Eisenmann. Dr. Maltese serves on every Cancer Biology track graduate student’s committee and has a earned reputation of being tough, yet exceptionally fair. Dr. Maltese serves on dozens of institutional committees including search committees for the Dean of COM, Provost, Chairs of Surgery, Phys Pharm, Med Micro, Medicine, and is the current chair of RAC. Collectively, it is clear that there is tremendous value placed by our students, faculty and staff, as well as the institutional leadership and administration upon Dr. Maltese’s experience and leadership at UT. He is truly invested in the success of the department and UT institution as a whole.

isIvana de la Serna, Ph.D. – Dean’s Award for Mentoring 
Introduction by William Maltese, Ph.D.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Ivana de la Serna, as this year’s winner of the Dean’s Award for Mentoring.  Dr. de la Serna de la Serna joined the Dept. of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology in 2005. Since then she has maintained an NIH-funded research program focused on melanoma, one of the most intractable forms of cancer.    
Dr. de la Serna has been a magnet for graduate students in our Biomedical Sciences program. To date, she has served as a mentor for eight Ph.D. students, seven of whom have graduated and one who is currently active in her lab. She has also served on thesis committees for 23 additional students and has hosted a number of students in our summer undergraduate program.   As a testament to the high quality of mentorship they have received, all of Dr. de la Serna’s Ph.D. students have gone on to secure impressive postdoctoral positions at institutions like: Harvard, Mass General, Yale, St. Jude’s, the University of Pennsylvania and The Fel’s Institute at Temple.  Students who wrote letters in support of her nomination were highly enthusiastic about Dr. de la Serna’s qualities as a mentor. To cite just a few examples:              

  • One student wrote: “She has been the best mentor I could have ever asked for. She is a true leader who inspires immensely with her work ethic.”                  
  • Another wrote: “Dr. de la Serna has been the most accessible and considerate person I have met professionally, and she provides for an excellent research environment.”                  
  • And finally a third noted: “Seeing Dr. de la Serna work so passionately in the lab inspired me to develop a similar attitude, which I now use every day to be successful in my postdoctoral position.”                  

I believe that these comments illustrate why Dr. de la Serna is most deserving of this award.

Department of Biochemistry & Cancer Biology Welcomes New Faculty

The Department of Biochemistry & Cancer Biology wishes to welcome Saori Furuta, Ph.D., and Dayanidhi Raman, Ph.D.

sfDr. Furuta joined the department in November 2015 as an Assistant Professor. She was previously a Project Scientist in the Life Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, CA.  Dr. Furuta investigates how mechanical and biochemical signals from extracellular matrix (ECM) are transmitted for the establishment of mammary epithelial architecture and to study how these mechanisms go awry during breast cancer carcinogenesis and whether their restoration in malignant cells could elicit anti-tumor effects. 


drDr. Raman joined the department in February 2016 as an Assistant Professor.  He worked as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN.  His research is centered on cancer cell biology and biochemistry through chemokine receptors that mainly focus on cell signaling and migration mediated by chemokine receptors CXCR2 and CXCR4.




Manning Article Most Highly Cited

Dr. Maurice Manning received notification from the Journal of Neuroendocrinology that his paper is the most highly cited paper overall and the most highly cited review in JNE in 2014:  

Manning, M., Misicka A., Olma, A., ,Bankowski, K., Stoev, S., Chini, B., Durroux, T., Mouillac, B., Corbani, M., Guillon, G. (2012) Oxytocin and Vasopressin agonists and antagonists as research tools and potential therapeutics.  J. Neuroendocrinol 24:609-629.

State Representative Honors UT Researcher

An assistant professor of biochemistry and cancer biology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences has received a commendation from the Ohio House of Representatives for receiving a grant from The University of Toledo Medical Research Society.

State Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo) has honored Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann for her efforts in researching the development of cancer-fighting treatments, including ways to prevent cancer cells from spreading through the body. 

“I have never received anything like that from any politician or anyone who could have a vote in local or national science budgets,” Eisenmann said. “It was a proactive move by Congressman Ashford to support the sciences.”

Last June, Eisenmann received $50,000 from the UT Medical Research Society to support her research to develop a drug that will allow cancer-fighting treatments to more effectively penetrate tumor cells.

This research is vital because ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. About 200,000 women in the United States live with this cancer, and 55 percent of women diagnosed succumb to the disease within five years.

“It was a nice surprise to get the commendation in the mail,” Eisenmann said. “It was very encouraging because we scientists receive a lot of criticisms on a day-to-day basis — from reviewers, from scientific journals and from granting agencies. It is part of the job, but nonetheless, it is wonderful to get this kind of positive feedback. I am excited to see that our Ohio House of Representatives is pulling for the sciences.”

Ashford wrote on the award: “Throughout your career in the field of medicine, you have supported countless peers in their research endeavors and have helped to nurture within them a desire for excellence. Willingly giving of your time, energy and abilities far beyond what was required or expected, you have earned the respect and gratitude of your colleagues, your university and your community, and you are certainly deserving of high praise.”

By Brandi Barhite, UT News, January 15th, 2016

UT Researcher Discovers New Way to Treat Brain Cancer

keA scientist at The University of Toledo has discovered a potential way to stop the spreading of the most lethal brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann, UT assistant professor of biochemistry and cancer biology, worked with Van Andel Research Institute on this study, which was published online Sept. 9 by the American Society of Cell Biology in the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell. 

Eisenmann’s team, led by first author and UT MD/PhD graduate student Jessica Arden, found that cancer cells that cause GBM can potentially be stopped with a drug developed by Van Andel Research Institute Professor Arthur Alberts.


“The most lethal part about GBM is that the cells move so rapidly,” Eisenmann said. “We want to keep the cells in one place so they don’t spread to vital parts of the brain.”

In previous research, Alberts discovered a bioactive peptide called DAD and small molecules called intramimics. Both DAD and intramimics activate a family of proteins called DIAPHs or mDIA, which are known to play vital roles in GBM spread. He had been exploring the use of the drug for colon cancer treatment.

Eisenmann decided to see if his research could be applied to GBM, which is the most common brain tumor in adults. In 2010, there were 22,000 cases in the United States. People with GBM often live fewer than 15 months following diagnosis because, despite surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, individual cancer cells escape and invade healthy surrounding tissue, making additional treatment attempts increasingly difficult.

Eisenmann was inspired to study treatments for GBM because she has had friends and colleagues diagnosed with or die from the disease.

“It is one of the most lethal cancers and there are very few, if any, effective and durable treatments,” she said. “The prognosis is usually poor.”

The next step, with the help of a $75,000 grant from UT’s Interdisciplinary Research Initiation Award, is to evaluate the effectiveness of this new strategy in preclinical models, a crucial move in translating this discovery to the clinic and patients.

“GBM is lethal because it so effectively escapes and evades therapy,” Eisenmann said. “Our hope is this discovery will prove to be an anti-tumor strategy and one that will be safe and effective for patients.

“New therapies for GBM are desperately needed,” she said. “We hope our latest finding will lead to a novel and effective treatment for this extremely aggressive cancer.”

For more information on how to support this research, contact Allie Berns, assistant director of annual giving, at 419.530.5414 or, or contribute online at

By Brandi Barhite, UT News, November 2, 2015

Watch Dr. Eisenmann's interviews on WTOL 11 News on November 3, 2015 and on November 5, 2015

Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann Receives First Medical Research Society Award

Dr. Kate Eisenmann has received the very first grant awarded from the University of Toledo Medical Research Society.  The $50K grant will support her research for drug development that will allow cancer-fighting treatments to more effectively penetrate tumor cells. 
UTNews, June 29, 2015

Congratulations to CAB Alumni Michael Robinson, PhD

Mike will be awarded the Doctor of Medicine/Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences Program Outstanding Student award at The Class of 2015 Graduation Awards Ceremony on May 28, 2015.  He completed his PhD training in June 2013 in the labs of Dr. William Maltese and Dr. Paul Erhardt.

Cancer Biology Student Articles Published in the Toledo Blade

The Toledo Blade is publishing a  series of articles written by Biomedical Sciences students here at the University of Toledo College of Medicine & Life Sciences.  Following is the series by our Cancer Biology students:

Shengnan Du (9/2/16) - Chemical that disrupts cell division could help to treat cancer

Kari Lavik (4/4/16) - Zebrafish help in the fight against cancer

Tupa Basuroy (12/7/15) - UT Students Researching How to Prevent Melamoma

Nneka Mbah (7/6/15) - Investigating ways to treat aggressive brain cancer

Gaurav Mehta (6/1/15) - Investigating link to proteins in heart failure

Shweta Aras (2/2/15) - Shining a light on the darkness of melanoma

Ila Datar (10/13/14) - The ongoing battle against melanoma

Jessica Arden (6/2/14) - Stopping cell movement in glioblastoma

Akshada Sawant (5/5/14) - UT doctoral students fight to tame cancer genes

2016 Thesis Defense



Dr. Mbah successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Defining the Mechanisms of Methuosis, a Non-Apoptotic Cell Death Induced by Indole Chalcone Compounds in Glioblastoma Cells" on November 30, 2016.  She has been mentored by Dr. William Maltese



Dr. Lavik successfully defended her dissertation entitled "A Collaborative Role for Neuronal-Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome Protein and Mammalian Diaphanous-Related Formins during Invadopodia Formation and Invasion" on January 8, 2016.  She has been mentored by Dr. Kathryn Eisenmann.


2015 Thesis Defense

idCONGRATULATIONS to Ila Datar, Ph.D.!

Dr. Data successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Positive and Negative Regulators of Tumorigenesis and Metastasis" on July 23, 2015.  She has been mentored by Dr. Kam Yeung and Dr. Ivana de la Serna.  Dr. Datar has accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Kurt Schalper, M.D., Ph.D., Dept. of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine.  She will be working on predictive biomarkers of lung cancer.


atCONGRATULATIONS to Archit Trivedi, Ph.D.!

Dr. Trivedi successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Bromodomain Containing Proteins in Melanocyte Differentiation and Melanoma" on July 15, 2015.  He has been mentored Dr. Ivana de la Serna.  Dr. Trivedi has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Lewis A. Chodosh, Dept. of Cancer Biology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.  He will be working on tumor dormancy, recurrence and related mechanisms.

saCONGRATULATIONS to Shweta Aras, Ph.D.!

Dr. Aras successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Role of SWI/SNF Chromatin Remodeling Enzymes in Melanocyte Differentiation and DNA Damage Response to Ultraviolet Radiation" on July 13, 2015.  She has been mentored by Dr. Ivana de la Serna.  Dr. Aras has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. M. Raza Zaidi, Dept. Biochemistry, Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.  She will be working on molecular mechanisms of ultraviolet radiation induced melanomagenesis.

gmCONGRATULATIONS to Gaurav Mehta, Ph.D.!

Dr. Mehta successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Role of transcription factor MITF and SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzyme subunit BRG1 in the regulation of pathological cardiac hypertrophy" on June 3, 2015.  He has been mentored by Dr. Ivana de la Serna.  Dr. Mehta has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Jonathan Epstein, Dept of Medicine & Penn Cardiovascular Institute at Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

2006-2014 Biochemistry & Cancer Biology graduates


Last Updated: 12/9/16