Mark Cohen, M.D.

Professor of Surgery, Pharmacology, and Biomedical Engineering
Vice Chair of Clinical Operations, Department of Surgery
Director, Medical School Pathway of Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Director, Endocrine Surgery Research
Executive Director, Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize Fund

Dr. Cohen has an active basic science and translational research laboratory on the NCRC campus focused on development of new treatments for cancer patients including drug development, nanoparticle drug delivery, and tissue engineering of endocrine organs from stem cells. These novel drugs are being evaluated for improving the responses of several types of cancer including melanoma, thyroid cancer, head and neck squamous cell cancer, colon cancer, adrenal cancer, breast cancer, and neuroblastomas. His research is focused in four main areas of translation:

  • Developing methods to more effectively treat locally advanced cancers through nanoparticle drug-delivery strategies. Using two patented nanoparticle drug-delivery systems, he is developing novel sustained-release treatment strategies with nanoparticles to complete pre-clinical proof-of-concept studies to move these treatments into upcoming clinical trials in several types of cancers.
  • Developing novel highly selective, highly potent cancer therapies from natural products including withanolide drugs isolated from the Physalis longifolia plant, which have been shown to be highly effective treatments against melanomas, breast cancer, thyroid cancer, colon cancer, glioblastomas, neuroblastomas, leukemias, lung cancers, and head and neck cancers. These drugs also target cancer stem cell function and decrease tumor invasion and aggressiveness in preclinical models.
  • Evaluating the clinical potential of new targeted drugs developed to inhibit the cancer cell regulatory function of the HSP90 molecular chaperone selectively. These new drug compounds are being translated into improved anti-cancer agents for future clinical trials in thyroid cancer, head and neck squamous cell cancer, breast cancer, melanoma and adrenal cancer.
  • Tissue engineering stem cells into functional endocrine organs for autotransplantation using novel 3D-printed bioscaffolds. These scaffolds are then optimized for long-term hormonal delivery and in vivo longevity and safety.

His research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, and he has served on grant review study sections for the NIH, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.