The Provenzano laboratory is part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Masonic Cancer Center, the UMN Physical Sciences in Oncology Center, and the Center for Multiparametric Imaging of Tumor Immune Microenvironments (C-MITIE) at the University of Minnesota. In addition, Dr. Provenzano is a full member of the Stem Cell Institute faculty and a member of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine. Collectively, these interactions provide critical support to our research program and represent a scientifically robust community that fuels our interdisciplinary research aimed at elucidating the physical and molecular mechanisms that drive cancer and developing novel diagnostics and therapeutic interventions.
Our research efforts focus on Cancer Bioengineering and defining mechanisms of disease progression and resistance to therapy, and developing next-generation therapeutic strategies. Our studies focus heavily on the environments surrounding tumor cells. The microenvironment surrounding carcinoma cells influences cell behavior through complex interactions of biochemical factors, matrix architecture, and matrix mechanical properties. Along these lines we focus on understanding the physical and molecular mechanisms by which this stromal extracellular matrix and stromal cell populations influence epithelial cell behavior in cancer. In particular, we 1) seek to elucidate how complex interactions in cancer drive disease progression to metastasis by understanding the influence and interactions of mechanical, architectural and biochemical inputs, 2) develop novel therapeutic strategies to combat disease by re-engineering the tumor stroma to enhance delivery of small molecule therapeutics, and promote anti-tumor immune responses, and 3) use rationale engineering design principles to develop next-generation immune cell-based therapies. We propose specific and integrated experiments, and employ nonlinear imaging, engineered environments, and quantitative analysis and mathematical modeling to explicitly investigate the physical and molecular mechanisms driving disease progression and resistance to therapy.