An oncology surgeon and scientist, Todd Bauer, MD, studies cancer biology at a deep level to uncover the mechanisms that drive metastatic disease and chemotherapy resistance in his pancreatic and colorectal cancer patients.
His research team capitalizes on the recent discovery of CRISPR technology and advancements in single-cell sequencing. A veteran scientist, Bauer began his translational cancer research during his general surgery residency and surgical oncology fellowship.
See Bauer's selected publications. Below, he shares the most intriguing potential clinical applications of his work, and why he chose UVA Health to drive his research forward in his answers to our Researcher Highlight questions:
What are you working on right now?
We're employing sophisticated genetic techniques, such as single cell RNA sequencing and single cell ATAC sequencing, in our mouse PDX models of cancer. We're studying the interaction between tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment cells in primary and metastatic sites to identify novel mechanisms of tumor metastasis. Additionally, we're using in vivo CRISPR screening technology to identify novel mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance in our PDX models.
What are the most intriguing potential clinical applications of your work?
We anticipate that our ongoing studies will identify novel targets for therapy of pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer, which can then be tested in our mouse models using patient-derived tumors.
What recent discovery has impacted the way you think?
The recent discovery of CRISPR technology and the advancements in single cell sequencing have enabled us to investigate cancer biology much more deeply, and in ways that will greatly accelerate our discovery of novel therapies.
What made you choose UVA Health as the place to do your research?
For three main reasons, I chose UVA Health as the place to start my career in cancer research 18 years ago. First, the quality of cancer research at UVA is among the best in the country, and there is a priority on translational research.
Additionally, collegiality, collaboration, and team science are hallmarks of the culture in the scientific community at UVA.
Finally and most importantly, I was able to identify an incredible mentorship team comprised of an established full-time cancer biologist who welcomed me into his lab, a successful surgeon-scientist who could help me navigate starting my career as a surgeon-scientist, and a seasoned clinical partner who prioritized my career goals and was eager to sponsor me locally and nationally.
What do you wish more people knew about your area of research?
While our first priority is to improve the survival and quality of life for people with pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer, almost as important is the impact we have on the students and trainees who participate in our research.
Many of the advances and discoveries that we make are directly a result of our students’ and trainees’ ideas, hard work, or different way of thinking about a problem. In the future, these trainees will carry on the next generation of research and make discoveries we couldn’t imagine today.
How did you become interested in your area of research?
My interest in translational cancer research began during my general surgery residency when I spent two years doing full-time cancer research. Then during my surgical oncology fellowship, I spent another 18 months in a translational research laboratory.
The mentors that I had during these two experiences had more of an impact on my career than anything else. It led me to pursue a career as a surgeon-scientist with a focus in pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer, and it inspired me to want to pass along that mentorship to my own students and trainees.