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Kratz Lab »  About Us

About Us

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Even early-stage patients who have undergone surgical “cure” experience recurrence and death up to 40-50% of the time within 5 years. Currently, few of these patients will receive therapy after surgical resection of their early-stage disease, as conventional post-surgical chemotherapy has failed in this respect.

What is needed is a way to identify patients with early-stage tumors at high-risk of lung cancer recurrence and lung-cancer specific mortality. 

In prior years, Dr. Kratz’s research group designed and validated a clinically relevant assay to identify early-stage patients at high-risk of recurrence and death after surgical resection. Dr. Kratz’s lab now focuses on the genetic and immunological mechanisms that make a subset of these early-stage lung cancers “high-risk”. 

In Dr. Kratz’s lab, both the genetic as well as the immunological landscapes of early-stage high-risk tumors are currently being investigated. Using the latest DNA / RNA sequencing and gene expression techniques combined with a bioinformatics-driven systems biology approach, the lab is comparing the different features of low- vs. high-risk early-stage lung cancer in order to gain a better understanding of the genetic nature of high-risk stage I lung cancer. The lab also utilizes cutting-edge immunological profiling techniques to investigate immune responses generated by certain patients that nurture high-risk disease. 

We are focusing on early-stage thoracic malignancies for three reasons.

  1. Early- stage tumors are high-yield research subjects as they are more homogenous and less complex than late-stage tumors.
  2. Patients with early-stage but high-risk disease are more likely to be cured by targeted interventions than patients with regional or metastatic late-stage disease.
  3. Despite their deadly nature, very few clinician-scientists target early-stage thoracic malignancies. Most interventions and clinical trials are designed for patients with late-stage disease, leaving a very large underserved population of patients with early-stage, yet deadly disease.

Dr. Kratz’s lab is using their new research discoveries to identify potential genetic and immunological targets of novel interventions such as biomarker-directed therapies, novel drugs and new immune-based therapies. Identification of these biomarkers and targets will allow the delivery of post-surgical interventions that patients with high-risk early-stage thoracic malignancies urgently need.