Cancer Biology Research Group
Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, College of Medicine
What is your relationship to cancer?
My journey to become a cancer researcher began after completing my undergraduate training at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. I was privileged to join the unique graduate program in infectious diseases there and received my Ph.D. summa cum laude in 2012. Soon, I began to learn about hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) while drawing blood from cancer patients during clinical rotations at the Military Medical Centre Lamizana in Ouagadougou.
I was struck by the high incidence of hepatitis B (HBV)-induced HCC among young patients, the majority who succumbed from their diseases within a few weeks of the diagnosis. Worst still, there was no warning of cancer risk and no preventive treatment.Marius Bolni Nagalo, Ph.D.
However, like most other young aspiring biomedical researchers who preceded me, an acute and profound realization of the lack of resources and trained personnel to achieve clinically beneficial outcomes for these patients quickly served to temper, but by no means eliminate my inherent and requisite optimism and tenacity to care for these patients. I decided to further my training in drug development with a focus on the use of viral vectors to treat human cancers.
What do you hope to contribute to the Cancer Institute?
The current goal of the Cancer Institute is to obtain an NCI designation. Although it is a tremendous task, I have witnessed during my interview the commitment of Dr. Birrer to achieving this milestone. The Cancer Institute has four programs with the specific mission to develop innovative approaches that can be translated into patients and attract extramural funding to benefit the health and well-being of the people of Arkansas. My expertise in engineering and applying viral vectors in cancer gene therapy and oncolytic viral therapy could improve the outcomes for cancer patients with limited therapeutic options and contribute to our goal of obtaining NCI designation.
Tell us about your current research?
I am an assistant professor of Pathology in the Division of Experimental Pathology at UAMS. My research program focuses on developing tumor-specific viral vectors for oncolytic viral therapy and gene therapy in human cancers, especially hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers. With my collaborators at UAMS, we are delineating strategies to use live-attenuated vaccine vectors as affordable cancer immunotherapies. I firmly believe that this research endeavor will help address health disparities in access to cancer care, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas of the United States.
To learn more, view Dr. Nagalo’s research profile
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org