- About CURE
Dimitrios Iliopoulos, PhD
Associate Professor, Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases
Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Dr. Iliopoulos has been recently recruited to UCLA from Harvard where he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Iliopoulos is interested in identifying how intracellular inflammatory stimuli and perturbations in the tumor microenvironment contribute to the transformation of pancreatic normal cells into cancer cells. Furthermore, his research is focused on the identification and molecular characterization of pancreatic cancer cell subpopulations with stem cell properties.
His studies are driven by previous experimental results and epidemiological findings demonstrating that chronic inflammation of the pancreas is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Despite this knowledge, the relationship between inflammation and cancer initiation is not fully understood. It has also been shown that some cells within a pancreatic tumor, known as cancer stem cells (CSCs), are thought to have initiated the tumor, and carry the ability to regenerate the tumor. These cells have also been observed to be extremely resistant to chemotherapy treatment. Preliminary research in Dr. Iliopoulos’s laboratory has suggested that an inflammatory circuit may be active specifically in the pancreatic CSCs. Dr. Iliopoulos therefore proposes to better understand the inflammatory processes taking place within the cell, and also the tumor cells’ relationship with other cell types involved in inflammation. The overarching goal of Dr. Iliopoulos’s work is to determine whether the inflammatory network in pancreatic cancer stem cells could be a therapeutic target, and provide a novel treatment method for pancreatic cancer.