The University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Therapeutic Development Program is led by William Montfort, PhD and Daruka Mahadevan, MD, PhD.

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 program leverages basic research expertise in the study of molecular pathways that mediate cancer growth, including specialized capabilities in target discovery, molecular modeling, and chemical synthesis with analogue development, refinement of novel molecule-based therapeutics, and extensive analysis of predictive biomarkers. 

The field of medical oncology is primed for immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. The TDP through the Early Phase Therapeutics Program has a portfolio of immune checkpoint therapy combinations for solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. These therapies target immune checkpoints, key regulators of the immune system that stimulate or inhibit immune response, leading to long term responses in patients.

Program activities are organized under three major themes:

  • Chemically synthesize and biologically characterize novel anti-cancer agents
  • Elucidate unique biologic targets for new chemotherapy agents
  • Translate laboratory findings into clinical trials

Program Goals

The scientific gaol of the Therapeutic Development Program is to develop strategies that can be used to expand available therapeutic options and/or lead to enhanced efficacy of existing therapeutics. 

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.