Dr. Chuck Clevenger

charles-clevengerOrganization: Northwestern University
Personal Biography: Charles Clevenger is the Diana, Princess of Wales Professor of Cancer Research at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Leader of the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center’s Women’s Cancer Research Program. Dr. Clevenger obtained his BS in 1982, his PhD degree in 1986, and his MD degree in 1987, all from the Northwestern University. He went on to complete his postgraduate training in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine in 1987. In 2005, Dr. Clevenger brought his laboratory group back to Northwestern University where he maintains an active research program and continues to practice as a cytopathologist. He has received a number of awards for his research including the American Association for Cancer Research-Breast Cancer Research Foundation Translational Breast Cancer Research Award, the American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award, and the Pfizer Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology. He has received a Northwestern University “Outstanding Teaching Recognition” in 2009 and 2010.
Dr. Clevenger first demonstrated how prolactin (PRL), a naturally occurring hormone needed for milk production, has a role in the advancement and spread of breast cancer. The research in his lab is focused on the characterization of PRL receptor signal transduction and function as it pertains to breast cancer and mammary gland development.


Lecture Topic: From bench to bedside: How Basic Discoveries in Prolactin Receptor Signaling are Providing New Therapeutic Leads Against Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a malignancy that responds to the actions of multiple hormones. Paralleling breast development, three hormones, namely estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin have been found to contribute to the development of this disease. Focusing on prolactin, his lab has teased apart novel aspects of the signaling pathways utilized by the receptor for this hormone. In doing this, we have not only made fundamental discoveries on how cell receptors function, but also have identified new therapeutic targets. The goals of this lecture are to see how such discoveries are made and then translated to the patient. The lecture will examine how one cell enzyme, namely cyclophilin A, is necessary for prolactin receptor function. Analysis of the prolactin receptor/cyclophilin complex has led to the study of a family of targeted cyclophilin inhibitors that block the growth and progression of breast cancer. How this research then progressed from analysis of the effects of the cyclophilin inhibitors on cultured cells to their inhibitory actions in mouse models of mammary cancer and finally into ongoing patient trials will be discussed. Unlike most current breast cancer therapies that are non-specific, such targeted therapies hold the promise of specific anti-breast cancer action and chemoprevention with a minimum of toxicity. Integration of how targeted therapies will impact the future of breast cancer treatment will conclude this presentation.


Directed Study Topic: Human Pathology: The basis for Modern Medicine
Modern medicine is based on our empirical understanding of disease processes identified by the discipline of pathology. In this directed study, the student will interact with diseased human tissues and microscopic images and correlate these with our cellular and molecular understanding of these entities. Students who participate in this directed study should not be “faint of heart” and be willing to interact with the preserved tissues that demonstrate human pathobiology.