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Cullen Taniguchi

Cullen Taniguchi

Regular Member

Associate Professor

MDA Z3.3030 (Unit 97)

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Radiation Oncology

The Taniguchi Lab seeks to improve the therapeutic ratio of cancer treatments by understanding and exploiting the biology of hypoxia, or low oxygen, to improve outcomes for pancreatic and hepatobiliary cancers.  The prolyl hydroxylase domain-containing (PHD) proteins use molecular oxygen to regulate a wide array of pathways, and are thus the body’s oxygen sensors.  These oxygen sensors can exert powerful cell survival effects, chiefly through the regulation of the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) family of transcription factors.  Our interest in the PHD/HIF pathway is twofold:  1) What is the role these oxygen sensing proteins play within the tumor microenvironment to affect tumor growth and response to chemoradiation treatments? 2) Can we exploit the healing properties enabled by the PHD/HIF pathway to protect normal tissues from chemotherapy and radiation toxicity.

To study the role of these PHD proteins in the tumor microenvironment, we independently devised a novel dual recombinase system where stromal components are regulated with Cre/lox and tumor components are regulated independently.  This model improves on xenografts, which do not have a significant stroma or immune response.

We have also studied the role of PHD proteins in protecting the GI tract from radiation damage and wish to extend these studies to other tissues so that every normal tissue in the body can be selectively protecting from chemotherapy and radiation damage without compromising tumor kill. 

Our studies in cell culture and complex animal models are designed to be immediately relevant to human disease and to leverage Dr. Taniguchi’s role as a Radiation Oncologist at MD Anderson to translate these findings to clinical trials.

Potential Rotation projects:

  • Studying the role of PHD proteins on tumor progression
  • Examining the role of PHD proteins on tumor metabolism
  • Examining the role of the PHD proteins on stromal metabolism
  • Studying metabolic dynamics within human pancreatic cancer
  • Devising chemoradioprotective strategies for the intestinal tract in an organoid model
  • Analyzing crosstalk between hypoxia and growth factor signaling pathways in drug resistance and tumorigenesis


MDACC Faculty

Taniguchi Lab

Education & Training

PhD, Harvard University. 2005
MD,  Harvard University, 2008

Research Opportunities