test tubes filled with blue liquid in a rack

Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Research Program

The Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Research Program at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center focuses on discovering and characterizing important cancer-specific metabolic and stress pathways, identifying novel therapeutic agents, and translating mechanism-based discoveries into effective cancer therapies. Cancer-specific metabolic networks and stress pathways provide targets for diagnostic or prognostic biomarker discovery and for therapeutic intervention.

These goals are realized through a multi-level approach that includes monthly program meetings, program-specific seminars, transdisciplinary research teams, intramural funding and training opportunities, investments in existing and new shared resources, and targeted recruitment of faculty.

The program consists of 30 basic and clinical scientists drawn from nine departments distributed across MUSC’s colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Thematically, it is organized around these aims:

  • Lipid signaling and metabolism: To identify alterations in cancer-specific sphingolipid, prostaglandin, and glycolipid metabolic pathways, and to develop therapeutic strategies that target these pathways.
  • Cancer stress response pathways: To identify the mechanisms whereby oxidative stress, mitochondrial function/bioenergetics, and kinase-mediated cellular signaling regulate tumor cell biology.
  • Drug development and clinical trials: To develop anti-cancer drugs and conduct early-phase clinical trials that are relevant to the state’s population and that complement ongoing scientific programs at Hollings Cancer Center.

Program Co-Leaders

Dr. Michael Lilly 

Michael B. Lilly, M.D.

Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine

Academic Focus: Genitourinary malignancies; Acute leukemia

Dr. Besim Ogretmen 

Besim Ogretmen, Ph.D.

Professor of Biochemistry
& Molecular Biology
College of Medicine

Academic Focus: Sphingolipid metabolism; Lipid signaling; Cancer cell death pathways; Mechanisms of cancer therapeutics

Featured Research

Dr. Shikhar Mehrotra works with a colleague in the lab

A startup formed by Hollings researchers has been awarded a grant to advance its novel adoptive cell therapy technology.