OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Bergan Lab

Our laboratory focuses on developing highly targeted, novel therapeutics for patients with prostate and other cancers.

Dr. Bergan and lab members discuss research.

Contact us



Oregon Health & Science University
Knight Cancer Institute
Mail Code: LBRB-540A 
3303 S.W. Bond Avenue
Portland, OR 97239

Support our research

Give directly to the Prostate Cancer Program Endowment.

Work with us

We are always looking for highly motivated and creative people with a strong background in molecular biology, cancer biology or related fields to join our team. If you would like to apply, please email your CV and a brief letter outlining your research interests and career plans to Ryan Gordon, Ph.D. at gordory@ohsu.edu.

Researchers at the Bergan Lab study samples.

Our laboratory focuses on drug discovery for therapeutically inhibiting cancer cell motility. We have been at the forefront of targeting pro-motility pathways, and understanding how those pathways are associated with transformation to a metastatic phenotype.

Therapeutically inhibiting cancer cell motility in humans

Our group has been leaders in targeting pro-motility pathways in humans. Through a comprehensive series of studies, we have characterized a series of central pathways that regulate human prostate cancer (PCa) cell motility and associated transformation to a metastatic phenotype. We have identified and synthesized small molecules targeting those pathways, demonstrated efficacy in pre-clinical models, and conducted prospective phase I and II human trials. We were the first to successfully therapeutically target pro-motility/pro-metastatic pathways in humans in any cancer type, and we did so in PCa. 

Drug discovery

Our group has extensive experience moving small molecule therapeutics, many synthesized and discovered by our group, from the bench towards and into the clinic.

  1. After defining the intracellular pharmacokinetics of modified backbone oligonucleotides, our group developed an improved means to deliver them intracellularly, demonstrating that c-myc targeted antisense is effective in an ex vivo bone marrow purging setting.
  2. After demonstrating that specific oligonucleotides directly and specifically inhibit bcr-abl kinase activity, we showed their ability to specifically inhibit the growth of patients' CML cells.
  3. After demonstrating that high-dose tamoxifen inhibits PCa cell growth via PKC inhibition, we demonstrated activity in men with advanced PCa.
  4. As discussed above, we successfully therapeutically targeted pro-motility pathways in humans. In recent work, we demonstrated that MKK4/MEK4 pathway activation drives human PCa metastasis, and developed a high throughput screening platform for compounds that inhibit MKK4 activity.
  5. Additionally, using a novel drug discovery strategy, wherein chemistry is used to probe biology, we synthesized and patented the small molecule which inhibits human PCa cell motility and metastasis at nM concentrations and is highly selective. This molecule is currently the focus of two federally funded peer-reviewed grants.

Cancer chemoprevention

We have led the field in several aspects. We identified inhibition of cancer cell motility as an important chemoprevention target. Dr. Bergan founded one of only five NCI-funded Early Phase Chemoprevention Clinical Trials Consortia, serving as PI from 2000 to 2015. 

Achievements included

  1. Local delivery of therapeutics. This avoids systemic toxicity and provides a high therapeutic index. Efficacy was shown with topical delivery in high-risk breast, with photodynamic therapy in high risk oral cavity and we have ongoing trials of aerosolized delivery (lung), topical delivery (breast) and oral delivery (colon).
  2. Demonstrating that spectral imaging can measure therapy-induced reversion of cancer-associated macromolecular/chromatin changes. We demonstrated efficacy using aspirin in high-risk colon. Local delivery circumvents systemic toxicity, and will markedly expand use. Spectral imaging allows real time therapeutic efficacy assessment for the first time, can be used across epithelial surfaces, and will transform the field. 
Bergan Lab researcher studying a sample.
Dr. Raymond C. Bergan, Knight Cancer Institute Researcher
Raymond C. Bergan, M.D. – Professor; Chief, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology; Associate Director of Medical Oncology, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute; Director, Bergan Basic Research Laboratory

Raymond C. Bergan, M.D. is an internationally regarded cancer specialist known for leading breakthrough studies on how cancer cells spread and preventive treatments for high-risk patients.

Dr. Bergan was previously director of experimental therapeutics for Northwestern University's Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center, co-director of the Center for Molecular Innovation and Drug Discovery as well as a professor in the Department of Medicine. His laboratory at Northwestern conducted groundbreaking research to expand the understanding of how early-stage cancer transforms to eventually move throughout the body. He developed and leads one of only five National Cancer Institute-funded phase I cancer chemoprevention clinical trials groups.

Dr. Bergan discusses research with his lab members.

At the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, Dr. Bergan has established a research laboratory to continue this work bringing targeted therapies to advanced stage prostate cancer patients. His other priorities will include expanding the institute's offering of phase I drug trials and applying the latest drug developments. His goal is to work with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute's team of researchers to provide highly tailored treatments to patients, including those with early or advanced cancer, and, ultimately change the course of their disease.

Memberships and associations

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Association for Cancer Research (12120)
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Associate American College of Physicians
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group
  • Illinois Medical Society
  • National Cancer Institute Antisense Interest Group
  • Oregon Medical Society
  • Zacchaeus Medical Clinic Advisory Committee
Dr. Bergan and lab members testing samples
Ryan Gordon, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor at the Bergan Lab, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Ryan Gordon, Ph.D. (Research Assistant Professor)
Ryan Gordon received a Master of Science degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. in human nutrition from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After finishing his graduate training, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. There, he investigated molecular alterations in prostate cancer that contribute to the development of therapy-resistance. His current research interests include drug discovery and the molecular pharmacology of novel oncology therapeutics.

Email Ryan

Abhi Pattanayak, M.S., Laboratory Manager at the Bergan Lab, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Abhi Pattanayak, M.S. (Laboratory Manager)
Ahbi holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from National Institute of Technology, India (2003), and a master's degree from University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2007). Since 2008, he has contributed in the capacities as a researcher and laboratory manager in the fight against Alzheimer's disease and cancer at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, respectively. Abhi loves the science and potential in biomedical research and in his spare time enjoys repairing general laboratory equipment.

Email Abhi

Hu Zhang, M.D., Visiting Scholar at the Bergan Lab, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Hu Zhang, M.D. (Visiting Scholar)
Hu Zhang received his medical degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in 2010, and is now completing a residency in Urology at Fudan University, Shanghai China. His research interests include urinary cancers with a particular focus on prostate cancer.

Email Hu

Xiao Guan, M.D., Visiting Scholar at the Bergan Lab, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Xiao Guan, M.D. (Visiting Scholar)
Xiao Guan received his medical degree in Xiangya School of Medicine, Central South University in China. He is currently a resident in urology at Xiangya Hospital, Central South University. In Dr. Bergan's lab, Xiao Guan is focusing on KBU2046's role on androgen signaling in prostate cancer.

Email Xiao

Former lab members

Visiting scholars

Wenzhe Liu, M.D. 2011-2013 
Visiting Scholar: Oncology Department, Guangdong NO.2 Provincial. People's Hospital, Guangzhou, China. Degree: 1998 M.S. in Oncology, The First Military Medical University, Guangzhou, 1991 M.D. China Medical University, Shenyang, China

Post-doctoral students and fellows

Guy Watkins 2013-2015 
2012, Ph.D. Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center 

Diarmuid Moran 2009-2010
Ph.D. (2005), Cell Biology, University of North Carolina
Now: Associate Director, Translational R&D. Oncology at Quintiles (2013)

Minalini Lakshman 2004-2007
Ph.D. Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Toronto Now: Product research specialist at Visual Sonics (in Canada) (2011); Scientific Operations Manager (2014)  

Subhendu Mukhopadhyay 2004-2006
(Cancer Prevention Training Program) Ph.D. Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University. Now: Data Analysis, Abbott (2012)  

Chen Shan 2003-2006
Ph.D., National University of Singapore (2002)  

Steven Hayes 2000-2002 Post Doctoral Fellow. Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Illinois at Chicago. Now: VP R&D BellBrook labs Inc. (2014)

Yue-Qin Liu 1997-2002
M.D., China Medical University, Shenyang, China. Ph.D., Molecular Immunology, Cancer Institute of Chinese. Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College  

W. Robert Hudgins 1996-1998
Ph.D., Biochemistry, George Washington University

Thesis advisor for graduate students

Shurui Bian 2013-2015
M.S. of Biotechnology. Student: McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University July, 2012. Bachelor of Science, Biological Science, Peking University, Beijing, China 

Sankar Krishna 2007-2015
Primary thesis advisor for graduate student, Northwestern University. B.S., Biotechnology, India 

Michael Breen 2008-2014
Northwestern University. B.S., Biology and Biotechnology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute-Main Program 

Eric Voll 2008-2014
Northwestern University. B.S., Chemistry, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Now: Assistant Professor (2014) 

Janet Pavese 2008-2014
Northwestern University. B.S., Biochemistry, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
Now: Abbott Molecular Scientist (2014)

Rebecca Farmer 2007-2012
Northwestern University. B.S., Chemistry, University of Michigan

Kenji Wellman 2007-2008
Northwestern University. B.S., Biochemistry, University of Ottawa 

Clarissa Schumacher-Craft 2004-2007
Northwestern University. B.S. Biochemistry, Belliot College.
Now: Research Assistant Professor, Washington University (2013)

Research associates and assistants

Li Xu 2003-2012
Research Assistant Professor. Degree: M.D. (1993), Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China. Ph.D. (1999), Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an,China.
Now: Associate Professor Fourth Military Medical University (2014) 

Yongzeng Ding 2003-2008
Research Associate. Degree: M.D (1996), China Medical University, China. Ph.D.(2003), Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan.
Now: Attending physician Sisters Hospital, Buffalo (2014)

Karen Niguib 2000-2001
M.S., Systems Engineering. B.S., Electrical Engineering, Oakland University

Kate Walshe 1996-1997 
B.A., Fine Arts, Loyola College

Anuradha Kesari 1996-1997
B.A., Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 

Summer students and special volunteers

Juanito Terrobias 2015 Franklin High School, Portland OR. CURE Program Summer Intern

Luke Zhan 2013-2014 High School Student: Illinois Math Science Academy.
Now: Undergraduate Columbia University, Biochemistry and Business (2014)

Ashley Ifeadike (CURE student) 2012 Harvard University, Class of 2015. Degree Candidate in Biomedical Engineering

Mark Sparrow 2010 Dean's Summer Research Program. M1 Northwestern University Medical Student. BS, Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

Jordan Shafran 2010 Stanford University B.S. Biology 6/2012. Research volunteer.
Now: applying to graduate school (2014)

Daniel Bradley 2006 Combined CURE and Drug Discovery Program laboratory summer student.
Degree: Stanford University undergraduate Now: medical student at University of Southern California (2013) 

Kira Glover 2001 Combined CURE and Drug Discovery Program summer student.
Undergraduate in Chemical Engineering, Michigan State University.
Now: Neuroscience graduate program, University of Colorado

Seema Patel 1997 Junior, Boston University, Boston, MA 

Rafiq Baksh 1997 Sophomore, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 

Valerie Makarick 1996 Senior, Cornell University 

William Corley 1996 B.S., Zoology, Howard University. M.A., Administration, University District of Columbia

Jae Ryu 1996 High School Senior and Member Leadership Program, Kennedy High School 

Joseph Sweatmon 1996 McKinley High School


Xiaoke Huang 2002-2015 Laboratory Manager.
Degree: M.D., Hunan Medical University (1982), China

Irene Ogden 2010-2013 Technician.
Degree: M.S. (5/2010), Trinity College, Ireland 

Sean Pruell 2011 Masters in Biotechnology Program.
Degree: B.S. (5/2010), Biochemistry, Boston College. Now: Working for Abbott in Mass (2011)

Matias Valsecchi 2006-2007 Laboratory externship.
M.D., in his 4th year of internal medicine residency at the Hospital General de Agudos Juan A. Fernandez in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Now: Medical Oncologist, West Virginia (2014) 

Lijo Simpson 2001-2005 Internal Medicine Resident, Illinois Masonic Hospital.
Degree: M.D., the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. 

Brett Poisson 2000-2001 Oncology Fellow/laboratory researcher; Degree: M.D.  

Chadi Nabhan Summer 2000 Oncology Fellow; Degree: M.D.

Shuguang Wang 1999-2001 Ph.D. Candidate. Degree: Department of Statistics, Northwestern University

Edward Kyle 1993-1998 Technician. Degree: B.S., Microbiology, University of Maryland

Mariana Villegas 1997-1998 Medical Student. Degree: B.S.. Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Facultad de Ciencias, Medicas, Cordoba, Rep. Argentina