Developmental Therapeutics

Developmental Therapeutics Program 

The Developmental Therapeutics Program (DT) fosters cancer-focused inter-disciplinary research among basic scientists and clinical researchers who are focused on the discovery, development, and delivery of new anti-cancer therapies. The Program Leaders promote interaction and collaboration among DT members, which stimulates breakthroughs in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer.

Our researchers are from the University of Colorado Denver and Boulder campuses, Colorado State University, Children's Hospital Colorado, National Jewish Health, as well as the Denver VA Medical Center, local biotechnology organizations, and community practices. 

Scientific Goals:

The goals of the DT Program are to reduce the cancer burden across our catchment area and beyond through the integration of processes of discovery, development, and delivery of new anticancer agents.

The goals of the program are carried out through seminars, conferences, journal clubs, retreats, courses, training grant collaborations, and mentoring.

Focus Groups:

Discovery - Most drug discovery now occurs within the pharmaceutical industry. Our members, who work in signal transduction, natural products, and drug targeting, are discovering novel anticancer agents. 

Preclinical Development and Validation - Preclinical validation includes agents discovered at the Cancer Center, collaboratively with, or from the biopharmaceutical industry. The major categories of preclinical investigation in the DT program are stem cell therapeutics, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, pharmacology, metabolomics, novel combinations, imaging, and veterinary/comparative oncology. This focus group develops hypotheses that can be tested in early clinical trials. 

Early Clinical Development - Novel anticancer therapy testing begins in phase I clinical trials. Testing the efficacy of new agents is becoming increasingly complex. New targets may vary considerably among tumor subsets, and agents may target several pathways. DT Program members interact extensively with the NCI Cancer Therapy and Evaluation Program (CTEP), NCI Cooperative Groups, and the biopharmaceutical industry in our work. The Adult and Pediatric Phase I Programs continue to grow considerably with continuously increasing enrollment using a "hub and spoke" model to facilitate the early transition of agents into disease-directed trials when indicated by efficacy or target validation. 

Delivery - Clinical members of the DT Program provide high-quality cancer care by incorporating phase II and phase III trials into disease-specific settings. Delivery also includes Pediatric, Veterinary, and Radiation Oncology (non-TRM, HRM), as well as tumor types that are not included in the TRM and HRM Programs (GI, cutaneous oncology, BMT, leukemia/lymphoma, sarcoma, AIDS-related malignancies, and hematology).

Developmental Therapeutics Leadership


Lia Gore, MD

Program Co-Leader

Dr. Gore is a tenured Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Oncology and Hematology, and the Section Head of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant-Cellular Therapeutics.  She holds the Ergen Family Endowed Chair for Pediatric Oncology.  She founded and led the Pediatric Experimental Therapeutics Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado from 2012-2015 and is the current Vice-Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group and serves as a Special Advisor to the US Food and Drug Administration’s Pediatric Panel of the Oncology Drug Advisory Committee.  She has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has designed and led four clinical trials that resulted in global approval of drugs for five different oncology indications.  Dr. Gore was appointed as Program Co-Leader for DT by Dr. Schulick in 2018 and previously served as Program Co-Leader for Hematological Malignancies from 2015-2018. As Program Co-Leader, Dr. Gore has a focus on acute leukemias, coordinates pediatric Drug Development initiatives, and lends her expertise in clinical and translational research with an emphasis on trial design and multi-institutional and international studies. In addition, the Program Co-Leaders together determine the scientific direction and activities of the DT Program and foster and engage junior faculty and mentored members.

Dan Gustafson, PhD

Progam Co-Leader

Dr. Gustafson is a Professor of Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences at Colorado State University and holds the Shipley University Chair in Comparative Oncology. He also serves as the Director of Basic Research for the Flint Animal Cancer Center, the Co-Director of the Drug Development and Discovery Shared Resource (D3SR), and is currently serving a three year term as the Chair of the OTC-D(13) Cancer Diagnostics and Treatments (CDT) SBIR/STTR Study Section.  He has over 150 publications, nearly exclusively in the field of cancer pharmacology, and has had an active research program in cancer pharmacology and therapeutics for his entire career. Dr. Gustafson was appointed as Program Co-Leader for DT in 2014 and has been a Shared Resource Director or Co-Director since 1999 when he started the Pharmacology Shared Resource which has since evolved into the D3SR. As a Program Co-Leader, Dr. Gustafson has a focus on pre-clinical and early clinical drug development with noted expertise in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cancer therapeutics. He is also the primary contact for coordinating activities at CSU and the veterinary oncology program with the CU Cancer Center.

Antonio Jimeno, MD, PhD

Program Co-Leader

Dr. Jimeno is a Professor of Medicine and Otolaryngology, the Daniel and Janet Mordecai Endowed Chair for Cancer Stem Cell Research, the Director of head and neck cancer (HNC) clinical research, and co-Director of the Phase One, Expanded and Molecular Studies (POEMS) group. He leads a laboratory focused on studying cancer stem cell biology and the tumor micro-environment and with 10+ years of continuous NIH funding and over 200 publications. Currently Dr. Jimeno is the PI on 2 NIH R01s, 1 DOD, and 1 T32 grant. Dr Jimeno was appointed as Program Co-Leader for DT by Dr. Schulick in 2018, and previously served as Program Co-Leader in Cancer Biology Program in 2012-2018. As Program Co-Leader, Dr. Jimeno has a focus on solid malignancies, coordinates adult Drug Development initiatives, and lends his expertise in basic cancer biology research. In addition, the Program Co-Leaders together determine the scientific direction and activities of the DT Program and foster and engage junior faculty and mentored members.
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