Marja Nevalainen, MD, PhD
Room 309A, Bluemle Life Sciences Building
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 503-9245 fax
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Associate Professor of Cancer Biology, Medical Oncology, and Urology
Research and Clinical Interests
Past Research: Dr. Nevalainen's research accomplishments include the development and optimization of a long-term 3D organ culture system under serum-free conditions for normal and malignant rodent and human prostate tissue. She has demonstrated that 1) prolactin (Prl) is a mitogen and survival factor for normal and malignant human and rodent prostate epithelium, 2) Prl is locally produced by normal and malignant prostate cells, 3) Stat5 is the key signaling molecule that mediates the effects of Prl in normal and malignant prostate tissue, and 4) Stat5 is a crucial survival protein for prostate cancer cells.
Ongoing Work: Dr. Nevalainen's research program focuses on identifying protein kinase signaling pathways that mediate survival of castration-resistant and metastatic prostate cancer cells, with a special focus on Stat transcription factors. Dr. Nevalainen's laboratory has shown that Stat5 is critical for the viability of human prostate cancer cells in culture and for prostate xenograft tumor growth in nude mice. Moreover, Dr. Nevalainen has shown that activation of Stat5 in primary prostate cancer predicts early disease recurrence. The current focus of Dr. Nevalainen's research program is on the identification of the molecular mechanisms by which Stat5 contributes to castration-resistant growth of prostate cancer, the individual roles of Stat5a vs. Stat5b as survival factors for prostate cancer cells, on testing whether Stat5 inhibition sensitizes prostate cancer cells for radiation, and whether acetylation of Stat5a/b contributes to transcriptional activity of Stat5 in prostate cancer cells. Recently, Dr. Nevalainen's laboratory identified small-molecule inhibitors for Stat5. Dr. Nevalainen aims to use the Jak-Stat5 pathway as a molecular target to develop novel pharmaceutical strategies for prostate cancer therapy.