Developmental Therapeutics

Program Overview

The Developmental Therapeutics Research Program was established in 1974 as the first research program at Yale Cancer Center. It represents the foundation and cornerstone of the clinical translational research efforts at Yale Cancer Center.

The major focus of the Developmental Therapeutics Program is in the area of novel drug development for the treatment of cancer. Yale Cancer Center is home to some of the world’s leading investigators and scientists whose breakthroughs in cancer biology, pharmacology, and drug development show great promise in the treatment of a wide range of human cancers.

Research efforts are focused on the following major areas of investigation: (1) target identification, validation, and characterization; (2) characterization of the mechanisms of chemosensitivity and cellular drug resistance; (3) drug discovery/development; and (4) clinical trial design and development.

In addition to identifying critical regulatory pathways that are involved in cancer cell growth and proliferation and understanding the determinants of chemosensitivity and cellular mechanism of drug resistance, the Developmental Therapeutics Program has expanded its research efforts in the area of drug design and development. Approaches being taken include synthesis of small organic molecules based on traditional, rational drug design using structure-function analysis; drug design based on molecular modeling and structural features of certain critical targets; as well as drug design based on combinatorial nucleic acid, peptide, and chemistry methodologies.

Phase I/II, early-stage clinical translation studies have now been incorporated into Developmental Therapeutics. A strong interdisciplinary team approach is required in order to achieve the research objectives outlined above. Thus, the Program is comprised of basic research scientists, translational researchers, and clinical investigators actively involved in both basic and clinical research with particular expertise in various aspects of developmental therapeutics and drug development.

These include the fields of molecular and cellular biology, molecular genetics, biochemical and molecular pharmacology, synthetic chemistry, biomedical engineering, structural biology and molecular modeling, clinical pharmacology, diagnostic imaging, pathology, and clinical investigations.


Highlighted Research Articles


Turning Cancer’s Metabolism Against Itself - A team of scientists at Yale Cancer Center, have developed a way to use a tumor’s acidity to guide drug therapy directly into its cells.
From Bench to Bedside and Back- 

“The breast team leads the Cancer Center in therapeutic clinical trial accrual and accounts for 35 percent of all therapeutic trial accrual here.” - Anees B. Chagpar, MD

The Immense Benefits of Phase I Trials- When Joseph Paul Eder, MD, came to Yale only a few Phase I clinical trials were underway. Currently there are 14 Phase I trials open, and that number keeps growing.


Fighting Brain Cancer with Nanoparticles- The most common malignant brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is also the most intractable and lethal. One of the most promising new approaches to treatment has been developed in the Yale lab of Dr. W. Mark Saltzman.