David Woessner, PhD

Graduate Student
Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Utah
30 S 2000 E
LS Skaggs Pharmacy Institute
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112
ph: 801.581.7120
email: David.Woessner@pharm.utah.edu

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Research Project

My project involves evaluating new chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) therapies in vitro and in vivo. The first-line therapies for patients with CML are the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). TKIs antagonize the causative oncogenic and constitutively active non-receptor tyrosine kinase Bcr-Abl. TKI therapy is initially effective in about two-thirds of patients; however resistance to this drug may develop as the disease progresses. Development of second and third generation TKIs can effectively treat some resistant strains of CML, but have not been effective in completely eliminating the Bcr-Abl-positive cell population. It is important to note that these TKIs are not curative and that its continued use only increases CML prevalence.

We have developed a mutated coiled-coil derived from the wild type dimerization domain of Bcr which can bind endogenous Bcr-Abl to disrupt oncogenic function. I am exploring combination therapeutics, investigating the coiled-coil with RNAi technology, or other small molecule/peptide therapeutics directed against proteins involved in CML disease progression in leukemic cells. We hope these combinations will enhance therapeutic potency and eliminate Bcr-Abl containing cells.

My career goal is to perform preclinical and early clinical development studies of investigational new drugs. Using translational approaches I have learned over the course of my dissertation work and didactic preparation, I aim to employ creative yet rigorous experimental approaches to develop and bring to market new pharmaceutics. I am primarily interested in positions in biopharmaceutical research; however, I am also excited about translational research at academic centers. I am a fourth year PhD candidate at the University of Utah in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Additionally, I am completing a MS in Clinical Investigation as part of the HHMI Med to Grad Program at the University of Utah and expect to be finished with both degrees by Summer 2013.