Brenden-Colson Center co-directors

Dr. Brett Sheppard

Brett C. Sheppard, M.D., F.A.C.S.,
Professor of Surgery,
Division of Gastrointestinal and General Surgery, OHSU
William E. Colson Chair for Pancreatic Disease Research
Director of OHSU Pancreatic Cancer Program

Dr. Sheppard has an extensive background in surgical management of benign and malignant pancreatic disease with an additional focus on improvement in surgical outcomes and systems. Dr. Sheppard has served on numerous national and institutional committees. He chaired the OHSU Quality Committee and served on multiple state and federal working groups to improve and transform health care. In 2006 he co-founded the Oregon National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Collaborative to improve surgical care in the state of Oregon. In 2007 Dr. Sheppard started the Oregon Pancreatic Tumor Registry, which forms the backbone of the Brenden-Colson Center collaborative research.

Rosalie Sears

Rosalie C. Sears, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, OHSU
Krista L. Lake Chair in Cancer Research

Dr. Sears is studying cellular signaling pathways that control the generation of human cancer. Her pioneering research has identified new ways to target cancer cells that may apply to nearly all types of cancer. Dr. Sears uses advanced pre-clinical experimental models and is collaborating in novel drug development to facilitate the generation of meaningful therapies. Her work has been supported by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Cancer Institute and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Jonathan Brody

Jonathan Brody, Ph.D.
Vice Chair, Research, Department of Surgery, OHSU
Professor, Cell Developmental & Cancer Biology, OHSU 

Dr. Brody received his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his thesis specialized in studying the molecular aspects of cancer and cancer genetics. He patented, with Dr. Scott Kern, novel buffers for DNA identification (DNA electrophoresis buffer), that have changed the format of this molecular biology technique used to detect DNA. He was elected Chair of the Cancer Research Program (PRCRP), Department of Defense council and serves on many international study sections, including currently being the Chair of the Tumor Biology and Genomics study section for the American Cancer Society and a permanent member of the Cancer Prevention Study Section NCI study section panel. 

Brenden-Colson Center steering committee

Program leaders:

Dr. Lisa Coussens

Lisa M. Coussens, Ph.D.
Hildegard Lamfrom Endowed Chair in Basic Science
Professor and Chairwoman, Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology, OHSU
Associate Director for Basic Research, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Dr. Coussens came to OHSU from the University of California San Francisco. Her pioneering studies have fueled a paradigm shift in understanding the role of the tumor microenvironment and immune cells in regulating breast and skin cancer development and their response to cytotoxic therapy. In addition to receiving a prestigious Susan G. Komen Promise Grant to further her important work, Dr. Coussens is a principal investigator on a Stand Up To Cancer "Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team" award, that is enabling translation of her research in mouse models of pancreas cancer to the clinic.

Dr. Emek Demir

Emek Demir, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Molecular and Medical Genetics, OHSU

Dr. Demir specializes in integrating rich, detailed pathway information using the resulting "cell maps" to answer cancer biology problems in conjunction with -omic data, and is working to discover novel methods of incorporating pathway information to predict tumor response to drug interventions.  He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Molecular Biology and Genetics, and his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering at Bilkent University.  He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Computational Biology in 2008.  In 2015 he was recruited to the Brenden-Colson Center in collaboration with OHSU's Computational Biology Program.  Dr. Demir leads the Center's bioinformatics activities and is our liaison to the "big data" research groups on campus.

Dr. Joe Gray

Joe Gray, Ph.D.
Gordon Moore Chair of Biomedical Engineering, OHSU
Director of the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine

Dr. Gray joined OHSU in 2011 from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The internationally renowned cancer and genomic researcher is known for developing the FISH test that transformed how treatments are selected for breast cancer patients. He co-leads the Stand Up To Cancer initiative's "Breast Cancer Dream Team," serves as a key player in the Cancer Genome Atlas Project and is spearheading the use of computer models to predict how promising targeted therapies will work in attacking cancer cells. Dr. Gray, a physicist, is known for breakthroughs that have transformed clinical practices for cancer patients.

Dr. Charles Lopez

Charles Lopez, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Hematology and Medical Oncology, OHSU

A gastrointestinal medical oncologist, Dr. Lopez serves as a bridge between clinical and basic sciences. With expertise in clinical/translational research in gastrointestinal oncology and a focus on pancreatic cancer, his efforts are focused on integrating active patient care with ongoing scientific studies at OHSU. He has launched investigator-initiated clinical trials that have directly evolved from pre-clinical observations in the laboratory. Trials under way today are designed to improve outcomes for patients with treatable tumors, to make non-resectable tumors operable, and to create hope of life-prolonging therapies for patients with advanced metastatic disease.

Dr. Dan Marks

Daniel L. Marks, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Pediatric Endocrinology, OHSU
Senior Associate Dean for Research, OHSU School of Medicine

Dr. Marks is a pediatric endocrinologist, neuroscientist, and Co-Director of the OHSU MD/PhD program at OHSU. His expertise includes pediatric and adolescent endocrinology (including diabetes) and failure to thrive. In his lab, he studies cachexia (disease-associated wasting), which in many illnesses, including pancreatic disease, can be the primary determining factor in both quality of life and eventual mortality. There is currently no effective pharmaceutical treatment, and this disorder of energy homeostasis is poorly understood. Dr. Marks leads the Center's cachexia research efforts including prehabilitation trials for pancreatic cancer chemotherapy patients, looking for biomarkers of muscle wasting, and use of personal fitness devices to track reduction in movement. He also contributes to the Center's Quality of Life programs by advising on survey administration and "whole body" studies of metabolism, mental health, neuroendocrine status, etc., for their impact on tumor growth, patient survival, treatment complications, and quality of life.

Dr. Gordon Mills

Gordon B. Mills, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology, OHSU
Director of Precision Oncology, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute
Director, SMMART Trials, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Dr. Mills is an internationally recognized cancer researcher with more than 20 patents in novel technologies and molecular biomarkers and who has authored more than 900 papers.  His work focuses on identifying and characterizing a number of tumor suppressor genes.  Holding the Wayne and Julie Drinkward Endowed Chair in Precision Oncology, he integrates research across multiple areas, including early detection, immunotherapy and systems biology.

Additional steering committee members:

Dr. Sadik Esener

Sadik Esener, Ph.D.
Director, Knight Cancer Early Detection and Research (CEDAR), OHSU
Wendt Family Endowed Chair in Early Cancer Detection

Prior to joining OHSU, Dr. Esener has served in several leadership roles at UCSD in which he achieved results by bringing together scientists and technology across disciplines. He served as the director and principal investigator of the NanoTumor Center, a Nanotechnology Center of Excellence funded by the National Cancer Institute. His research focus has involved projects in multiple scientific fields relevant to cancer early detection, including electrical and optical engineering, nano-engineering and material sciences for biomedical applications. In addition, he has made many pioneering contributions to the fields of optical interconnects, light modulation, optical data storage, biophotonics as applied to gene chips, cell sorting and manipulation, and heterogeneous integration of photonics, electronics and biological components. More recently his work has focused on the synthesis and application of nano particle delivery of biologics for cancer therapies, brain mapping and invivo imaging.