Gregg L Semenza

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Publications (409)3055.19 Total impact

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    Weibo Luo · Ivan Chen · Yan Chen · Duah Alkam · Yingfei Wang · Gregg L Semenza
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    ABSTRACT: Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) control the transcription of genes that are crucial for the pathogenesis of cancer and other human diseases. The transcriptional activity of HIFs is rapidly increased upon exposure to hypoxia, but expression of some HIF target genes decreases during prolonged hypoxia. However, the underlying mechanism for feedback inhibition is not completely understood. Here, we report that peroxiredoxin 2 (PRDX2) and PRDX4 interact with HIF-1α and HIF-2α in vitro and in hypoxic HeLa cells. Prolonged hypoxia increases the nuclear translocation of PRDX2 and PRDX4. As a result, PRDX2 and PRDX4 impair HIF-1 and HIF-2 binding to the hypoxia response elements of a subset of HIF target genes, thereby inhibiting gene transcription in cells exposed to prolonged hypoxia. PRDX2 and PRDX4 have no effect on the recruitment of p300 and RNA polymerase II to HIF target genes and the enzymatic activity of PRDX2 and PRDX4 is not required for inhibition of HIF-1 and HIF-2. We also demonstrate that PRDX2 is a direct HIF target gene and that PRDX2 expression is induced by prolonged hypoxia. These findings uncover a novel feedback mechanism for inhibition of HIF transcriptional activity under conditions of prolonged hypoxia.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Oncotarget
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    Daniel J Klionsky · Kotb Abdelmohsen · Akihisa Abe · Md Joynal Abedin · Hagai Abeliovich · Abraham Acevedo Arozena · Hiroaki Adachi · Christopher M Adams · Peter D Adams · Khosrow Adeli · [...] · Xiao-Feng Zhu · Yuhua Zhu · Shi-Mei Zhuang · Xiaohong Zhuang · Elio Ziparo · Christos E Zois · Teresa Zoladek · Wei-Xing Zong · Antonio Zorzano · Susu M Zughaier ·
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    ABSTRACT: In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. For example, a key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process versus those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process including the amount and rate of cargo sequestered and degraded). In particular, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation must be differentiated from stimuli that increase autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. It is worth emphasizing here that lysosomal digestion is a stage of autophagy and evaluating its competence is a crucial part of the evaluation of autophagic flux, or complete autophagy. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. Along these lines, because of the potential for pleiotropic effects due to blocking autophagy through genetic manipulation, it is imperative to target by gene knockout or RNA interference more than one autophagy-related protein. In addition, some individual Atg proteins, or groups of proteins, are involved in other cellular pathways implying that not all Atg proteins can be used as a specific marker for an autophagic process. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Autophagy
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    Gregg L. Semenza

    Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Journal of Molecular Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Expression of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1-regulated gene product, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), correlates with tumor vascularity in patients with uveal melanoma (UM). While the relationship between HIF-1 and VEGF in cancer is well-studied, their relative contribution to the angiogenic phenotype in UM has not previously been interrogated. Here we evaluate the contribution of HIF-1, VEGF, and a second HIF-1-regulated gene product, angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4), to angiogenesis in UM. Experimental design: UM cells were examined for expression of HIF-1α, VEGF, and ANGPTL4. Their contribution to the angiogenic potential of UM cells was assessed using the endothelial cell tubule formation and directed in vivo angiogenesis assays. These results were corroborated in tissue from UM animal models and in tissue from patients with UM. Results: Inhibition of VEGF partially reduced tubule formation promoted by conditioned medium from UM cells. Inhibition of ANGPTL4, which was highly expressed in hypoxic UM cells, a UM orthotopic transplant model, a UM tumor array, and vitreous samples from UM patients, inhibited the angiogenic potential of UM cells in vitro and in vivo; this effect was additive to VEGF inhibition. Conclusions: Targeting both ANGPTL4 and VEGF may be required for the effective inhibition of angiogenesis in UM.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Oncotarget
  • Gregg L. Semenza · Peter P. Ruvolo

    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is characterized by progressive elevation of pulmonary vascular resistance, right ventricular failure, and ultimately death. We have shown that in rodents, hypoxia-induced mitogenic factor (HIMF; also known as FIZZ1 or resistin-like molecule-β) causes PH by initiating lung vascular inflammation. We hypothesized that hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a critical downstream signal mediator of HIMF during PH development. Approach and results: In this study, we compared the degree of HIMF-induced pulmonary vascular remodeling and PH development in wild-type (HIF-1α(+/+)) and HIF-1α heterozygous null (HIF-1α(+/-)) mice. HIMF-induced PH was significantly diminished in HIF-1α(+/-) mice and was accompanied by a dysregulated vascular endothelial growth factor-A-vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 pathway. HIF-1α was critical for bone marrow-derived cell migration and vascular tube formation in response to HIMF. Furthermore, HIMF and its human homolog, resistin-like molecule-β, significantly increased interleukin (IL)-6 in macrophages and lung resident cells through a mechanism dependent on HIF-1α and, at least to some extent, on nuclear factor κB. Conclusions: Our results suggest that HIF-1α is a critical downstream transcription factor for HIMF-induced pulmonary vascular remodeling and PH development. Importantly, both HIMF and human resistin-like molecule-β significantly increased IL-6 in lung resident cells and increased perivascular accumulation of IL-6-expressing macrophages in the lungs of mice. These data suggest that HIMF can induce HIF-1, vascular endothelial growth factor-A, and interleukin-6, which are critical mediators of both hypoxic inflammation and PH pathophysiology.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology
  • Gregg L Semenza
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    ABSTRACT: Stem cells are characterized by the capacity for both self-renewal and generation of all other cell types (pluripotency) or differentiated cells within a particular lineage (multipotency). Stem cells are often localized to hypoxic niches within tissues and hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) play key roles in the maintenance of pluripotent and multipotent stem cells, as well as cancer stem cells, which are also known as tumor-initiating cells. HIF inhibitors target cancer stem cells and improve the responses to angiogenesis inhibitors and cytotoxic chemotherapy in mouse models of breast cancer.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Molecular Aspects of Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Increased expression of CD47 has been reported to enable cancer cells to evade phagocytosis by macrophages and to promote the cancer stem cell phenotype, but the molecular mechanisms regulating CD47 expression have not been determined. Here we report that hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) directly activates transcription of the CD47 gene in hypoxic breast cancer cells. Knockdown of HIF activity or CD47 expression increased the phagocytosis of breast cancer cells by bone marrow-derived macrophages. CD47 expression was increased in mammosphere cultures, which are enriched for cancer stem cells, and CD47 deficiency led to cancer stem cell depletion. Analysis of datasets derived from thousands of patients with breast cancer revealed that CD47 expression was correlated with HIF target gene expression and with patient mortality. Thus, CD47 expression contributes to the lethal breast cancer phenotype that is mediated by HIF-1.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    Maimon E Hubbi · Gregg L Semenza
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    ABSTRACT: Hypoxia is a physiological cue that impacts diverse physiological processes, including energy metabolism, autophagy, cell motility, angiogenesis, and erythropoiesis. One of the key cell-autonomous effects of hypoxia is as a modulator of cell proliferation. For most cell types, hypoxia induces decreased cell proliferation, since an increased number of cells, with a consequent increase in O2 demand, would only exacerbate hypoxic stress. However, certain cell populations can maintain cell proliferation in the face of hypoxia. This is a common pathological hallmark of cancers, but can also serve a physiological function, as in the maintenance of stem cell populations that reside in a hypoxic niche. This review will discuss major molecular mechanisms by which hypoxia regulates cell proliferation in different cell populations, with a particular focus on the role of hypoxia-inducible factors.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2015 · AJP Cell Physiology
  • Gregg L Semenza
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    ABSTRACT: The small subpopulation of breast cancer cells that possess the capability for self-renewal and formation of secondary tumours that recapitulate the heterogeneity of the primary tumour are referred to as tumour-initiating cells or BCSCs (breast cancer stem cells). The hypoxic tumour microenvironment and chemotherapy actively induce the BCSC phenotype. HIFs (hypoxia-inducible factors) are required and molecular mechanisms by which they promote the BCSC phenotype have recently been delineated. HIF inhibitors block chemotherapy-induced enrichment of BCSCs, suggesting that their use may improve the response to chemotherapy and increase the survival of breast cancer patients.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Clinical Science
  • Gregg L Semenza

    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · AJP Cell Physiology
  • Nanduri R Prabhakar · Gregg L Semenza
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    ABSTRACT: The discovery of carotid bodies as sensory receptors for detecting arterial blood oxygen levels, and the identification and elucidation of the roles of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) in oxygen homeostasis have propelled the field of oxygen biology. This review highlights the gas-messenger signaling mechanisms associated with oxygen sensing, as well as transcriptional and non-transcriptional mechanisms underlying the maintenance of oxygen homeostasis by HIFs and their relevance to physiology and pathology.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Physiology
  • Nanduri R Prabhakar · Gregg L Semenza
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    ABSTRACT: Oxygen (O2) sensing by the carotid body and its chemosensory reflex is critical for homeostatic regulation of breathing and blood pressure. Carotid body responses to hypoxia are not uniform but instead exhibit remarkable inter-individual variations. The molecular mechanisms underlying variations in carotid body O2 sensing are not known. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) and HIF-2 mediate transcriptional responses to hypoxia. This article reviews the emerging evidence that proper expression of the HIF-α isoforms is a key molecular determinant for carotid body O2 sensing. HIF-1α deficiency leads to a blunted carotid body hypoxic response, which is due to increased abundance of HIF-2α, elevated anti-oxidant enzyme activity, and a reduced intracellular redox state. Conversely, HIF-2α deficiency results in augmented carotid body sensitivity to hypoxia, which is due to increased abundance of HIF-1α, elevated pro-oxidant enzyme activity, and an oxidized intracellular redox state. Double heterozygous mice with equally reduced HIF-1α and HIF-2α showed no abnormality in redox state or carotid body O2 sensing. Thus, mutual antagonism between HIF-α isoforms determines the redox state and thereby establishes the set point for hypoxic sensing by the carotid body.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology
  • Weibo Luo · Gregg L. Semenza

    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Cancer Research
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    ABSTRACT: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) accounts for 10-15% of all breast cancer but is responsible for a disproportionate share of morbidity and mortality because of its aggressive characteristics and lack of targeted therapies. Chemotherapy induces enrichment of breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs), which are responsible for tumor recurrence and metastasis. Here, we demonstrate that chemotherapy induces the expression of the cystine transporter xCT and the regulatory subunit of glutamate-cysteine ligase (GCLM) in a hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1-dependent manner, leading to increased intracellular glutathione levels, which inhibit mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) activity through copper chelation. Loss of MEK-ERK signaling causes FoxO3 nuclear translocation and transcriptional activation of the gene encoding the pluripotency factor Nanog, which is required for enrichment of BCSCs. Inhibition of xCT, GCLM, FoxO3, or Nanog blocks chemotherapy-induced enrichment of BCSCs and impairs tumor initiation. These results suggest that, in combination with chemotherapy, targeting BCSCs by inhibiting HIF-1-regulated glutathione synthesis may improve outcome in TNBC.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Aims Previously we demonstrated that both hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) and bone morphogenetic protein-4 (BMP4) up-regulate transient receptor potential canonical (TRPC) 1 and TRPC6, resulting in increased basal intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs), driving development of chronic hypoxia (CH)-induced pulmonary hypertension (CHPH). This study aims to determine whether HIF-1 regulates BMP4, and whether BMP4 mediates TRPC and basal [Ca2+]i increases in hypoxic PASMCs. Methods and results The level of BMP4 mature protein was increased for 183% in distal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle (PA) from CH (10% O2 for 21 days; CH) exposed rats, and 143% in PASMCs cultured under prolonged hypoxia (4% O2 for 60 h). In rat PASMCs, HIF-1α overexpression up-regulated, whereas HIF-1α knockdown under hypoxia decreased BMP4 expression; site-mutation identified two functional HIF-1-binding sites in Bmp4 gene promoter; noggin or BMP4 siRNA treatment blocked hypoxia-induced increases of TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression and basal [Ca2+]i. Likewise, in mice, exposure to CH increased BMP4 expression in distal PA for 80%, which was absent in HIF-1α heterozygous mutant mice. Comparing with wild-type littermates, BMP4 heterozygous mutant mice exposed to CH displayed lower BMP4 and TRPC levels in PA, decreased basal [Ca2+]i in PASMCs, and attenuated CHPH. In human PASMCs, HIF-1α knockdown attenuated hypoxia-induced BMP4 expression and knockdown of either HIF-1α or BMP4 abolished hypoxia-induced TRPC expression and basal [Ca2+]i. Conclusions BMP4 acts downstream of HIF-1 and mediates hypoxia-induced up-regulation of TRPC, leading to increased basal [Ca2+]i in PASMCs, promoting CHPH pathogenesis. © 2015 Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author 2015. For permissions please email: [email protected] /* */
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Cardiovascular Research
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    ABSTRACT: Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a vascular neoplasm caused by infection of endothelial or endothelial precursor cells with the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV8). Research efforts have focused on defining the molecular events explaining how KSHV promotes pathological angiogenesis and KS tumor formation. mTOR/HIF-1 is a fundamental pathway driving these processes through the upregulation of angiogenic and inflammatory proteins, including VEGF, ANGPTL4, and ANGPT2. Interestingly, HIF-1 has also been implicated in the upregulation of metabolic genes associated with aerobic glycolysis and the growth of solid tumors. However, whether HIF-1 plays a role in regulating cell metabolism in KS remains unexplored. Here, we show that the HIF-1 metabolic effector, pyruvate kinase 2 (PKM2), is upregulated upon KSHV infection of endothelial cells and is necessary to maintain aerobic glycolysis in infected cells. We further demonstrate that PKM2 regulates KS angiogenic phenotype by acting as a coactivator of HIF-1 and increasing the levels of HIF-1 angiogenic factors, including VEGF. Indeed, inhibition of PKM2 expression blocked endothelial cell migration and differentiation and the angiogenic potential of KSHV-infected cells. We also investigated whether PKM2 regulates the angiogenic dysregulation induced by the KSHV-encoded G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR), a viral oncogene that promotes Kaposi's sarcomagenesis through the upregulation of HIF angiogenic factors. Interestingly, we found that PKM2 controls vGPCR-induced VEGF paracrine secretion and vGPCR oncogenesis. Our findings provide a molecular mechanism for how HIF-1 dysregulation fuels both angiogenesis and tumor metabolism in KS and support further investigations on therapeutic approaches targeting HIF-1 and PKM2 for KS treatment.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Angiogenesis
  • Gregg L. Semenza
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    ABSTRACT: Intratumoral hypoxia is a common finding in breast cancer and is associated with a significantly increased risk of metastasis and patient mortality. Hypoxia-inducible factors activate the transcription of a large battery of genes encoding proteins that promote primary tumor vascularization and growth, stromal cell recruitment, extracellular matrix remodeling, premetastatic niche formation, cell motility, local tissue invasion, extravasation at sites of metastasis, and maintenance of the cancer stem cell phenotype that is required to generate secondary tumors. Recent preclinical studies suggest that the combination of cytotoxic chemotherapy with drugs that inhibit hypoxia-inducible factors may improve outcome for women with triple-negative breast cancer. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research
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    ABSTRACT: Diabetic eye disease is the most common cause of severe vision loss in the working-age population in the developed world, and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is its most vision-threatening sequela. In PDR, retinal ischemia leads to the up-regulation of angiogenic factors that promote neovascularization. Therapies targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) delay the development of neovascularization in some, but not all, diabetic patients, implicating additional factor(s) in PDR pathogenesis. Here we demonstrate that the angiogenic potential of aqueous fluid from PDR patients is independent of VEGF concentration, providing an opportunity to evaluate the contribution of other angiogenic factor(s) to PDR development. We identify angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) as a potent angiogenic factor whose expression is up-regulated in hypoxic retinal Müller cells in vitro and the ischemic retina in vivo. Expression of ANGPTL4 was increased in the aqueous and vitreous of PDR patients, independent of VEGF levels, correlated with the presence of diabetic eye disease, and localized to areas of retinal neovascularization. Inhibition of ANGPTL4 expression reduced the angiogenic potential of hypoxic Müller cells; this effect was additive with inhibition of VEGF expression. An ANGPTL4 neutralizing antibody inhibited the angiogenic effect of aqueous fluid from PDR patients, including samples from patients with low VEGF levels or receiving anti-VEGF therapy. Collectively, our results suggest that targeting both ANGPTL4 and VEGF may be necessary for effective treatment or prevention of PDR and provide the foundation for studies evaluating aqueous ANGPTL4 as a biomarker to help guide individualized therapy for diabetic eye disease.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) expression is a hallmark of intratumoral hypoxia that is associated with breast cancer metastasis and patient mortality. Previously, we demonstrated that HIF-1 stimulates the expression and activity of TAZ, which is a transcriptional effector of the Hippo signaling pathway, by increasing TAZ synthesis and nuclear localization. Here, we report that direct protein-protein interaction between HIF-1α and TAZ has reciprocal effects: HIF-1α stimulates transactivation mediated by TAZ and TAZ stimulates transactivation mediated by HIF-1α. Inhibition of TAZ expression impairs the hypoxic induction of HIF-1 target genes, such as PDK1, LDHA, BNIP3 and P4HA2 in response to hypoxia, whereas inhibition of HIF-1α expression impairs TAZ-mediated transactivation of the CTGF promoter. Taken together, these results complement our previous findings and establish bidirectional crosstalk between HIF-1α and TAZ that increases their transcriptional activities in hypoxic cells.
    Preview · Article · May 2015 · Oncotarget

Publication Stats

71k Citations
3,055.19 Total Impact Points


  • 1988-2016
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • • Department of Biological Chemistry
      • • Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
      • • Department of Pediatrics
      • • McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine
      • • Department of Medicine
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 1999-2015
    • Johns Hopkins Medicine
      • • Department of Pediatrics
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Wilmer Eye Institute
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2008
    • Harvard Medical School
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • Tazuke Kofukai Medical Research Institute, Kitano Hospital
      Ōsaka, Ōsaka, Japan
  • 2000
    • University of Cincinnati
      • Department of Neurology
      Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
  • 1998
    • University of Virginia
      • Department of Pathology
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
  • 1996
    • Otsuka America Pharmaceutical
      Princeton, New Jersey, United States
  • 1991
    • Vanderbilt University
      • Division of Hematology and Oncology
      Nashville, MI, United States