Hollings Clinical Scholars

Current Scholars

nancy demore 

Nancy DeMore, M.D.

Professor, Surgery

Project: In 2008, the DeMore laboratory made the discovery of the overexpression of a protein called secreted frizzled related protein 2 in human breast cancer. They subsequently developed a humanized monoclonal antibody to SFRP2 that blocks tumor growth in pre-clinical models. Further work has discovered a profound effect of this antibody in tumor immunology. A recent study found that SFRP2 is very important in osteosarcoma metastases. The purpose of this project is to combine the SFRP2 monoclonal antibody with standard immunotherapy for the treatment of osteosarcoma.

Previous Scholars

antonio giordano 

Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Project: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) represents 15-20% of all breast cancers and is characterized by elevated genomic instability that can require an aggressive clinical course compared with other subtypes. Immunotherapy is emerging as a new treatment in breast cancer. Boosted by the exciting recent advances in the field of immuno-oncology and breast cancer, Giordano and colleagues proposed a translational program concentrating in these areas that would have a significant potential to lead to cancer discoveries. In this project, they will investigate two novel combinations for the treatment of stage 4 TNBC patients:

  • The addition of a colony-stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF-1R) inhibitor (SNDX-6352) to immunotherapy drug durvalumab to enhance the effect of checkpoint inhibitors in breast cancer.
  • A novel combination of an orally available PLK1 inhibitor (onvansertib) and paclitaxel — based on the preclinical data obtained during the Hollings K12 program, aimed at career development in clinical and translational oncology.


brian hess 

Brian Hess, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Hematology Oncology

Project: Diffuse large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), with over 27,000 patients diagnosed in 2016 in the U.S. Unfortunately, 35-40% of patients are not cured with initial chemotherapy. Intensive (salvage) chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) is the standard treatment for relapsed DLBCL. Only 50-65% of patients will achieve an optimal response following salvage chemotherapy to proceed to ASCT. More effective salvage regimens to overcome chemotherapy resistance are needed. This project will investigate the addition of a novel drug (CC-486 ) to chemotherapy prior to ASCT in efforts to enhance chemotherapy sensitivity and increase the likelihood of cure.


mahsa javid 

Mahsa Javid, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Surgery

Project: There are several types of thyroid cancer, and those of the same type may be more or less aggressive in nature. The reason for this variability is unknown. This project focuses on investigating a molecular factor, SFRP2, that may be involved in the development of aggressive thyroid cancer. This angiogenic factor has been shown to be involved in several malignancies, including breast cancer and melanoma, is expressed in thyroid cancer, and its effect on thyroid cancer growth will be characterized.


brion randolph 

Brion Randolph, M.D.

Clinical Associate Professor, Hematology Oncology

Project: Acute leukemia remains one of the leading causes of death from blood cancers. Advances in the field, including stem cell transplant and new targeted drug therapies, have improved the outcomes for many patients with acute leukemia. However, access to such innovative therapy and complications of therapy continue to be barriers to the goal of finding the cure. Randolph's interests include the application of both cellular and pharmacologic therapy for blood cancers. His research is focused on acute leukemia, health disparities, and complications of stem cell transplant. His current research project involves the development of a database of patients with blood cancers to help identify disparities in the care of such patients and opportunities for clinical trials for patients with leukemia. He is also engaged in research related to the prevention and treatment of graft-versus-host disease.


terry day 

Terrence A. Day, M.D.

Professor, Otolaryngology

Project: This project will integrate clinical, basic, and translational research studies and focus on mouth and throat cancers, including HPV-related cancers. The team will investigate the link of cancer molecules with clinical outcomes in head and neck cancer patients.


michael lilly 

Michael B. Lilly, M.D.

Professor, Medicine

Project: Dr. Lilly will investigate antibody-targeted chemotherapy for a newly recognized form of prostate cancer, called aggressive variant or neuroendocrine prostate cancer. This project will utilize a new biomarker (blood test) to identify patients for a corresponding clinical trial and investigate new combinations of the antibody-targeted chemotherapy drug with other anticancer agents.


david marshall 

David T. Marshall, M.D.

Professor, Radiation Oncology

Project: Dr. Marshall and members of the Genitourinary team will be studying ways in which radiation therapy can maximize the body’s own immune response to fight bladder cancer when combined with two new checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies.


john wrangle 

John M. Wrangle, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Medicine

Project: Immunotherapies are treatments for cancer intended to encourage the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer and represent the area of greatest growth in cancer research today. This project intends to understand which lung cancer patients benefit from the addition of cytokine therapy to FDA-approved PD-1 mAb therapy and how this novel combination may help circumvent a tumor’s mechanisms of escape from the immune system.


ramsay camp 

E. Ramsay Camp, M.D., MSCR

Associate Professor, Surgery

Project: This project will address the limitations of current tumor immunology animal models in an effort to fast-forward colorectal cancer translational research. Our multidisciplinary team developed a novel mouse tumor model using the patient’s tumor cells and their own immune cells to recreate the tumor immune system. We will use these patient-derived cancer models to explore factors regulating the tumor immunity and to design future immunotherapy strategies.


david neskey 

David M. Neskey, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology

Project: Over 70% of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck have mutations in the tumor suppressor gene TP53. Previous research has identified a subset of these mutations are associated with aggressive disease and decreased patient survival, but it is not currently understood how these mutations make head and neck tumor cells more invasive. The research proposed in this application aims to develop a genomic fingerprint of genes driving the cancer causing p53 mutations that can be applied to tumors of patients with head and neck cancer through the novel integration of functional and descriptive genomic data.


sara giordano 

Sara B. Giordano, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Medicine

Project: Dr. Giordano will design a clinical trial asking a very important clinical question; to determine if chemotherapy is needed for the first-line treatment of metastatic HER2-positive/ hormone (HR)-positive breast cancer. Dr. Giordano’s trial will determine if targeted therapy with HER2-directed therapy plus endocrine therapy is as effective and also improves a woman's quality of life compared to the current standard of care, including chemotherapy plus HER2-directed therapy. Dr. Giordano's trial has the potential to change clinical practice.


david cachia 

David M. Cachia, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery

Project: L-serine is important in preventing high levels of abnormal lipids thought to contribute to nerve damage. In an effort to prevent and reduce nerve damage caused by chemotherapy, this study will test the effects of amino acid L-serine given to breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy as well as examine whether similar lipid level changes occur in prostate cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.


whitney graybill 

Whitney S. Graybill, M.D.

Associate Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Project: Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy in the United States, and while women who present with localized recurrence fare well with surgery and/or radiation therapy, women who relapse following first- or second-line chemotherapy have a poor prognosis with limited treatment options. As part of the Clinical Scholar Program, I am developing a phase II clinical trial protocol for a DNA Damage Response Agent plus an Immuno-oncology agent as part of an umbrella trial for recurrent endometrial cancer. I will also be evaluating potential biomarkers of response to this combination therapy.



  • Andrea Abbott, M.D., MSCR
  • Steven Carroll, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Nancy DeMore, M.D.
  • Michelle Hudspeth, M.D.
  • Lee Leddy, M.D., MSCR
  • Shikhar Mehrotra, Ph.D.
  • James Ravenel, M.D.
  • Gerard Silvestri, M.D.
  • Kenneth Tew, Ph.D.
  • Graham Warren, M.D., Ph.D.


  • Gregory Kennedy, M.D., Ph.D. 
    • University of Alabama School of Medicine
  • Edward Newman, Ph.D. 
    • City of Hope
  • Lillian Siu, M.D.
    • Princess Margaret Cancer Center, University Health Network