Therapeutic Development Program

The University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Therapeutic Development Program, led by Robert T. Dorr, PhD, RPh, and Michael A. Bookman, MD, works to discover new biological targets and develop agents that will translate into life-changing therapies that efficiently and effectively treat cancer. Program Project Grant: Therapeutic Targeting of Hypoxic and Oxidative Stress (5P01 CA017094-33; P.I.: Robert Dorr, Ph.D.) (Renewed 2007)

The Program oversees all stages of therapeutic discovery and development, from laboratory-based discovery and development to early-stage translational clinical trials. The Therapeutic Development Program relies on a close interaction between basic researchers and clinical investigators, ensuring a seamless translation of laboratory discoveries into clinical settings.

The Therapeutic Development Program is leading cutting-edge studies to identify promising molecular and genetic targets to get us closer to the day when all cancer treatments are tailored to each individual patient. Additionally, the Therapeutic Development Program aims to improve the quality of life of patients undergoing treatment by seeking therapies to reduce the occurrence of common cancer-related conditions, such as bone pain and metastasis.

Pancreatic Cancer

Robert Dorr, PhD, RPH, is working on the development of new agents to treat refractory cancers including pancreatic cancer. The laboratory work is focused on small molecules that perturb redox systems inside the cell, leading to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species and cell death. One of these agents, imexon, is currently in a randomized phase II trial in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Bone Metastases


Alison Stopeck, MD, led a clinical trial of Denosumab in the treatment of bone metastases in more than 2,000 patients with advanced breast cancer. Denosumab, which targets a protein that acts as the primary signal to promote bone removal, was superior to Zometa, the current standard of care. If approved by the FDA, Denosumab will be the first drug made from biological rather than chemical processes, to specifically target bone metastases.

Improving Outcomes

With the support of a major fellowship from SWOG and The Hope Foundation, Soham Puvvada, MD, is conducting research on a potential new drug combination to improve outcomes for lymphoma patients. The award will support Dr. Puvvada’s clinical trial of the addition of the drug Ibrutinib to an established maintenance chemotherapy regimen to determine if the combination will change the clinical outcomes of patients with Follicular Lymphoma.