Bitler-Behbakht Lab

The discovery and optimization of precision medicine-based anti-cancer therapeutics.

Ovarian and endometrial cancers are the deadliest and most common gynecologic malignancies, respectively. Notably, through research and clinical efforts over the past two decades, progress has been made in effectively managing these cancers, but there is still work to be done! Our ultimate research objectives are to aid in the discovery and optimization of precision medicine-based anti-cancer therapeutics.

With respect to ovarian cancer, our labs have three significant areas of on-going research, including early detection and prevention (Dr. Behbakht), disease progression and metastasis (Dr. Bitler), and novel therapeutic interventions (Drs. Bitler/Behbakht). Within these areas of research, we emphasize the epigenome, metabolome, and signaling pathways responsible for ovarian cancer tumorigenesis, disease dissemination, and therapy resistance. Further, the lab works closely with the Division of Gynecologic Oncology to ensure the translatability of our discoveries.

With respect to endometrial cancer, our labs are researching underlying genetic mechanisms of disease recurrence and developing precision medicine approaches to prevent disease recurrence (Drs. Corr/Moroney/Bitler). Based on previous research and clinical findings, we have honed in the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway and immune checkpoint as therapeutic targets.

Kian Behbakht, MD:

University of Colorado Extraordinary Service Award​​ (2013)

Resident Teaching Award - University of Colorado Denver (2009)

NCI K-12 Clinical Oncology Scholars Award (2003-2007)

Cook County Hospital Excellence in Teaching Award (2002)

American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award (1995)

Fellow Research Award - Rush Medical College (1994)

Resident Surgical Skills Award - Rush Medical College (1993)

Galloway Fellow in Gynecologic Oncology - Memorial-Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (1991)

Dr. Lindsay Wheeler has successfully utilized a cutting-edge genetic engineering tool (CRISPR/Cas9) to explore the role of each gene in the process of ovarian cancer dissemination. This is one of the first successful CRISPR/Cas9 screen executed at the University of Colorado |Anschutz Medical Campus by an independent laboratory. The goals are to utilize these findings to develop prognostic biomarkers and to identify novel ovarian cancer vulnerabilities.

Dr. Levi Watson, a post-doctoral fellow, is studying how cellular instructions, DNA, are differentially interpreted in PARP inhibitor resistant ovarian cancers. He has identified two enzymes that are key contributors to resistance. His current work involves using novel drugs to inhibit these enzymes, with the long-term goal of developing a new therapeutic combination to reverse PARPinhibitor resistance. His work was selected for an oral presentation at a specialized Association of American Cancer Research conference.

Current Openings in the Bitler-Behbakht Lab:


Contact Info

Olivia Castillo
Division Administrator
12700 East 19th Avenue
Room 3000D, MS 8613
Aurora, CO 80045

Phone: (303) 724-4144