We are fundamentally interested in why cancers develop, and we believe that learning about the roots of cancer development will lead to better cancer therapies, more cures and even cancer prevention. We've chosen to focus on different but related problems in cancer medicine.
The first area we study is Neurofibromatosis I (also known as NF1), which is a genetic syndrome that can lead to tumors in children. Individuals with NF1 can develop brain tumors and tumors along their spines (as well as cancers in other organs). This is an incurable disease that can lead to many complications and even death. We have developed experimental systems (please enter Research Website Access, go to Research tab) to study how mutations causing this disease actually lead to tumor formation, with the goal of using this information to develop better therapies.
A second major area of research is trying to understand why second cancers develop in some childhood cancer survivors. Children who survive cancer unfortunately have a much greater risk of developing a second cancer, which in many cases is a devastating development. Currently there is little that can be done to prevent this. My research focuses on analyzing these second cancers from childhood cancer survivors (some of whom are now adults) for problems in the genetic code. By studying the abnormalities in the genetic code of second cancers, we expect to understand the biological processes leading to second cancers, and one day prevent these complications so that survivors of pediatric cancers have the best chance possible of living healthy adult lives. Some of the tools and approaches we've developed are described in more detail in our Research Website (click on Research Website Access).
While our studies focus on issues that affect children, these disease processes also affect adults. In fact, the biology we study is fundamental to cancer and is relevant to cancers in adults. Working with multiple outstanding collaborators is enabling research into diverse cancers.
Awards & Honors
Recent Significant Publications
R. Mroue, B. Huang, S. Braunstein, A. Firestone, J.L. Nakamura.Loss of the imprinted gene Grb10 cooperates with Nf1 loss to promote tumorigenesis.. Provisionally accepted by PLOS Genetics in April 2015
N. Li, D.J. Maly, Y.H. Chanthery, D. Sirkis, C.S. Hackett, J.L. Nakamura, M.S. Berger, C.D. James, K.M. Shokat, W.A. Weiss, A.I. Persson.A sequential regimen of radiotherapy followed by aurora kinase inhibition targets tumor-propogating cells in human glioblastoma.. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. 2015 Feb; 14(2); 419-28. PMID: 25522764
S.D. Fouse, J.L. Nakamura, C.D. James, S. Chang, J.F. Costello.Sensitivity of primary glioblastoma cells to therapy is patient-specific and independent of the stem cell phenotype.. Neuro-Oncology. 2014 Mar;16(3):361-71. PMID: 24311636.
S.E. Braunstein, J.L. Nakamura. Radiotherapy-induced malignancies: Review of epidemiology, pathobiology and evolving technical approaches for mitigating risk.. Frontiers in Oncology. 2013;3:73. PMID: 23565507
M. Wahl, A. Hwang, J. Nakamura, I. Barani, S. Fogh, P. Sneed, M. McDermott, A. Sahgal, L. Ma. Individual Beam Sharpening Improves Composite Dose Fall-off Near a Target for Non-isocentric Cyberknife Radiosurgery.. Technol Cancer Res Treat 2013 Aug;12(4):341-8. PMID: 23369157
Fogh S, Ma L, Gupta N, Sahgal A, Nakamura JL, Barani I, Sneed PK, McDermott M, Larson DA. High-precision volume-staged Gamma Knife surgery and equivalent hypofractionation dose schedules for treating large arteriovenous malformations.. J Neurosurgery 2012 Dec; 117 Suppl: 115-9. PMID: 23205798
F L. Ma, S. Fogh, N. Gupta, A. Hwang, D. Pinnaduwage, J. Nakamura, I. Barani, M. McDermott, P. K. Sneed, D. Larson and A. Sahgal. A technique for achieving submillimeter accuracy of volume-staged stereotactic radiosurgery.. Journal of Radiosurgery and SBRT. 2012; 2(1):11-17.
G. Choi, B. Huang, E. Pinarbasi, S.E. Braunstein, A.E. Horvai, S. Kogan, S. Bhatia, B. Faddegon, J.L. Nakamura. Genetically mediated Nf1 loss in mice promotes diverse radiation-induced tumors modeling second malignant neoplasms. Cancer Res. 2012 Dec 15;72(24):6425-34.PMID: 23071067
Caballero JA, Sneed PK, Lamborn KR, Ma L, Denduluri S, Nakamura JL, Barani IJ, McDermott MW. Prognostic factors for survival in patients treated with stereotactic radiosurgery for recurrent brain metastases after prior whole brain radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 May 1;83(1):303-9.PMID: 22079723
Ma L, Lee L, Barani I, Hwang A, Fogh S, Nakamura J, McDermott M, Sneed P, Larson DA, Sahgal A. Shot sequencing based on biological equivalent dose considerations for multiple isocenter Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Phys Med Biol. 2011 Nov 21;56(22):7247-56.PMID: 22037677
Nakamura JL, Phong C, Pinarbasi E, Kogan SC, Vandenberg S, Horvai AE, Faddegon BA, Fiedler D, Shokat K, Houseman BT, Chao R, Pieper RO, Shannon K., Dose-dependent effects a focal fractionated irradiation on secondary malignant neoplasms in Nf1 mutant mice. Cancer Res. 2011 Jan 1;71(1):106-15.PMID: 21199799
Descovich M, Sneed PK, Barbaro NM, McDermott MW, Chuang CF, Barani IJ, Nakamura JL, Lijun M., A dosimetric comparison between Gamma Knife and CyberKnife treatment plans for trigeminal neuralgia., J Neurosurg. 2010 Dec;113 Suppl:199-206.PMID:21222296
L. Ma, A. Sahgal, C. Chuang, M. Descovich, P. Petti, V. Smith, L. Verhey, N. Barbaro, M. McDermott, K. Huang, J. Nakamura, P. Sneed, D. Larson. Functional Relationship between the volume of a near-target peripheral isodose line and its isodose value for Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. Radiosurgery 2010, Vol. 7, pp.75-83.DOI:10.1159/000288720
N. Kased, D.K. Binder, M.W. McDermott, J.L. Nakamura, K. Huang, M.S. Berger, W.M. Wara, P.K. Sneed. Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Brain Metastases from Primary Breast Cancer. Int J Rad Oncol Biol Phys 2009 Nov 15;75(4):1132-40.Epub 2009 Apr 3. PMID:19345514
N. Kased, K. Huang, J.L. Nakamura, A. Sahgal, D.A. Larson, M.W. McDermott,P.K. Sneed. Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for brainstem metastases: the UCSF experience.. J Neuro-Oncology 2008 Jan; 86(2): 195-205.
J.L. Nakamura, E. Garcia, R.O. Pieper. S6K1 plays a key role in glial transformation. Cancer Research, 2008 Aug 15;68(16):6516-23.
D.W. Golden, K.R. Lamborn, M.W. McDermott, S. Kunwar, W.M. Wara, J.L. Nakamura, P.K. Sneed. Prognostic Grading for Radiosurgical Treatment of Brain Metastases: Is One System Adequate? J Neurosurgery 2008 Dec (109): 77-86.
J.L. Nakamura, D.A. Haas-Kogan, R.O. Pieper. Glioma invasiveness responds variably to irradiation in a co-culture model. Int J Rad Oncol Biol Phys 2007; 69(3): 880-6.
J.L. Nakamura. The role of EGFR in the ppathogenesis of glioblastoma multiforme.. Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets. 2007 Apr; 11(4) 463-72.
Nakamura JL, Haas-Kogan DA, Pieper RO., Glioma invasiveness responds variably to irradiation in a co-culture model, Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2007 Nov 1;69(3):880-6.
Nakamura JL., The epidermal growth factor receptor in malignant gliomas: pathogenesis and therapeutic implications, Expert opinion on therapeutic targets. 2007 Apr;11(4):463-72. Review.