Organoid Pathology Lab

The organoid processing lab focuses on the formation of 3D patient-specific tumor organoids and applying them translationally, with the goal of informing personalized cancer treatments as well as research and development of new therapies.

The Organoid Processing Lab integrates tissue acquisition to create tumor organoids to support precision medicine research, grow and study rare cancers, support immunotherapy screening studies, and provide a personalized platform to test new drugs.

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) houses the OPL, which is jointly funded and operated by the WFBCCC and WFIRM. It focuses on the application of organoid technology in cancer research and tissue platform modeling.

The organoid model can accurately represent what occurs inside a patient’s body and will be useful in selecting the most effective chemotherapy treatment.

“Each patient is different and not every tumor is the same. Cancer research of the future, should develop tools applicable at a mass scale, to support tangible research for the tumor of each individual patient. At WFORCE we are developing these tools.," said Konstantinos Votanopoulos, MD, PhD, Surgical Oncologist and Director of WFORCE.

The Center for Tumor Organoid Research will focus on three specific areas — solid tumors, central nervous system tumors (brain), hematologic malignancies (blood).

The Solid Organ and Rare Tumors Organoid Program

Focusing on reconstruction of individual patients’ tumors in the form of 3D patient-specific tumor organoids. We  envision a day when non-specific descriptive cancer diagnosis such as colon cancer or lung cancer or breast cancer, will be replaced by a detailed report of the number, relative volume and virulence of clones included in a specific tumor, as well as sensitivity of each of these clones to a specific drug or combination of drugs.

Lead Scientist: Konstantinos Votanopoulos, MD, PhD

The Central Nervous System (CNS) Organoid Program

Including a multidisciplinary group of investigators in neuro-oncology, radiation biology, neurosurgical oncology, tissue engineering, drug development, and gliomagenesis. The group seeks to address important translational research challenges in neuro-oncology including optimizing drug delivery to reach difficult to target brain tumors, exploring mechanisms of immune evasion, activation, and trafficking for CNS malignancies, and understanding the interactions between tumors, the tumor microenvironment, and the surrounding normal brain.

Lead Scientist: Roy Strowd, MD

The Hematologic Malignancy Organoid Program

Focusing on the forms of cancer that begin in the cells of blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, or in the cells of the immune system and will work to have a better understanding of them using organoid models. The team will take tumor samples from patient bone marrow aspirates to learn how they behave in their surrounding environment, test the tumor’s response to a number of chemotherapy combinations, and explore how a patient's cancer evolves through treatment by collecting data throughout their treatment. 

Lead Scientist: Cesar Rodriguez Valdes, MD