MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

New SmartState Endowed Chair Richard Drake, PhD, to Lead MUSC's Proteomics Center


MUSC’s Proteomics Center on Forefront of Research to Unlock Cancer’s Complexities

August 3, 2011, Charleston, SC – Richard R. Drake, PhD, one of the nation’s leading experts on the complex role of proteins in the development of cancer, has joined the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) as the SmartState Endowed Chair in Proteomics. Drake, a professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, was named director of MUSC’s Proteomics Center.

Drake will be working with scientists at MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center, which holds National Cancer Institute designation, and colleagues in the Department of Cell & Molecular Pharmacology and across the region to develop new diagnostic tests and define how well cancer treatments are working.

Proteomics is the study of all the proteins present in a cell, tissue or organism at any moment.  The human body contains millions of proteins, all of them with distinct functions that drive activity in and between cells. Whereas the specific components of any individual genome may be somewhat fixed, protein expression and behavior is remarkably dynamic in reflecting the biology of cells and tissue. By defining these protein changes in combination with clinical information, protein “biomarker” tests can be developed that lead to more personalized protocols and treatments for patients.

Drake is the 40th appointed SmartState Endowed Chair.  The SmartState Program, formerly the CoEE Program, was created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2003 to stimulate knowledge-based economic development through academic research and industrial partnerships.  The Proteomics Center of Economic Excellence hopes to translate the research of Drake and his team into commercialized biomarker tests for a variety of medical fields.

“Dr. Drake’s appointment confirms that despite the difficult current economic environment, the unprecedented success of the South Carolina SmartState Program creates an attractive environment for the world’s leading innovators to start new businesses, create well-paying jobs and contribute to our state’s prosperity in the global economy,” said Regan Voit, Interim Chair for the SmartState Review Board.

Drake’s goal at MUSC is to identify specific protein biomarkers associated with different types and stages of cancers, as well as protein biomarker tests that could monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

“We believe that protein activity inside cancer cells provides a map of sorts to what causes or allows healthy cells to become cancerous and proliferate,” Drake said. “The more we know about the unique traits, or biomarkers, of different types of cancer, the better we’ll be diagnosing and treating cancer.”

 Drake, recruited from Eastern Virginia Medical School, has significant funding from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense for prostate and kidney cancer research.  He said MUSC has the scientists, facilities and equipment to be a leader in the relatively new field of proteomics.

“Dr. Drake has extensive credentials in the study of biomarkers in disease, particularly with respect to cancer,” said Ken Tew, Chair of MUSC’s Department of Cell & Molecular Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, and himself a John C. West SmartState Endowed Chair in the Translational Cancer Therapeutics Center. “The advent of pharmacogenetics and individualized therapy will place great emphasis on determining accurate predictive biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer. Dr Drake is will help put what we learn in the labs into new protocols for patients.”


* This website is best viewed in Firefox or Chrome internet browsers.