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Vito Quaranta Wins the Stanley Cohen Award

May 24, 2012 | Bill Snyder

Vito Quaranta, M.D.

The Stanley Cohen Award for Research Bridging Diverse Disciplines, such as Chemistry or Physics, to Solve Biology’s Most Important Fundamental QuestionsVito Quaranta, M.D., professor of Cancer Biology.

Quaranta earned his medical degree from the University of Bari School of Medicine in Bari, Italy, in 1974 and passed the USA ECFMG Board in 1976. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Immunology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., in 1981, and continued his research there, attaining the position of tenured associate professor of Cell Biology in 1992. He has been a professor of Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt since 2003.

His primary focus of research is cancer systems biology, as it pertains to invasion and metastasis. Quaranta has authored several relevant chapters in medical books and over 100 highly-cited scientific articles in the field of cancer biology. His early research helped define the molecular mechanisms by which integrins interact with laminins and other matrix molecules to modify the tumor microenvironment. For the past decade, he has developed a systems biology approach to cancer; in particular, by applying computer and mathematical modeling to predict how changes in the tumor microenvironment, including targeted therapy, affect cancer cell behavior with respect to proliferation, motility and metabolism.

Since 2004, Quaranta has been principal investigator of an Integrative Cancer Biology Program: Centers for Cancer Systems Biology grant from the National Cancer Institute that is implementing a cutting-edge interdisciplinary effort melding mathematics, engineering, computation and biology to solve the problem of cancer invasion and metastasis. A major focus is the development of single-cell methodologies to evaluate the mechanism of action of targeted therapy in cancer, based on the merging of automated time-lapse microscopy with image analysis and computational analyses.

Quaranta has achieved international recognition for his contributions to cancer systems biology. He has been an invited lecturer at numerous congresses and conferences on cancer biology. He was recently appointed by the NCI as a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer to promote cancer systems biology at Sigma Xi conferences throughout the country. With Lourdes Estrada, Ph.D., he established a course in cancer systems biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and he lectures and holds workshops on the topic at national and international scientific meetings. He has also co-chaired the NCI’s Integrative Cancer Biology Program. Quaranta is associate editor of two scientific journals, the Journal of Cellular Physiology and Cancer Research, and he has been an ad hoc member of several NIH study sections.