Dr. Erik N.K. Cressman
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Interventional Radiology
Over time, cancers develop from localized disease into systemic disease. However, many patients ultimately die from local effects of disease, thereby bringing the disease full circle. We seek to interrupt this cycle, bridging basic and clinical aspects of science and medicine. We study new, minimally invasive techniques that deliver local, highly concentrated therapies, with the goal of treating cancer more effectively, with fewer side effects, and often at lower cost than current methods. Interventional oncology is an emerging subspecialty to treat tumors using image-guided procedures. Our lab is focused on novel applications and extensions of basic chemical principles for reactions in situ, protein conformation, metabolism, and analytical methods in tissue. We view the human body as a large Erlenmeyer flask in which to perform chemistry.
Students in tutorials will be introduced to several imaging modalities applied in small and/or large animal models (CT, PET, MRI, diagnostic ultrasound, focused ultrasound, and fluoroscopy). Ample opportunities exist to learn about issues related to image-guided techniques in ablation of tumors, such as heat transfer and convection processes, catheter-based intravascular local delivery methods, and the energetics of protein structure, protein denaturation, and cell kill. Students can also gain exposure to applications of very simple but potent exothermic chemistry. Interwoven through all of these techniques is imaging mass spectrometry, a powerful analytical tool that is providing deep and unique insights into cellular processes such as cellular metabolism and drug distribution.