Natalie Galanina, MD

Researcher Spotlight

Researcher Spotlight: Natalie Galanina, MD

The University of Chicago


Though ibrutinib (Imbruvica) has helped a large number of lymphoma patients, many patients treated with ibrutinib eventually develop a resistance to the therapy and relapse. Dr. Galanina’s Lymphoma Clinical Research Mentoring Program (LCRMP) project seeks to address the problem of ibrutinib resistance by combining it with a new therapy called PU-H71, a selective inhibitor of the heat shock protein-90 (HSP90) that are frequently overexpressed in malignant cells and serve as molecular chaperones to promote oncogenic processes in various tumor types. Dr. Galanina and her colleagues discovered the efficacy of PU-H71 while screening a panel of small molecule inhibitors in combination with ibrutinib in a laboratory setting. “I tested a variety of compounds in an in-vitro cell model to select a combination of targeted agents most effective in suppressing the growth of resistant tumor cells,” she says. “I then investigated the mechanisms by which these targeted inhibitors exert their antitumor effect. Now I am now excited to translate these findings to the clinic.”

Dr. Galanina received her MD from Chicago Medical School before a residency at Yale New Haven Hospital and her current fellowship at The University of Chicago. She draws her motivation to study lymphoma biology from her patients, especially those with relapsed disease. “Being able to study refractory disease on a molecular level is fascinating because it provides us a window into complex molecular events that we could then target with the ultimate goal to alter the course of the disease,” she says. She adds that the recent advances in novel therapies for relapsed/refractory patients make this an exciting time to be a lymphoma researcher. “These are the patients who present a clinical challenge and motivate me to try harder and to do more.”

Dr. Galanina hopes to develop her career to become a clinical investigator running a successful clinical trials program in hematology and developmental therapeutics and, in fact, will be moving to her first academic faculty position in August. She sees her participation in the LCRMP as a terrific way to advance toward that career goal. “The Lymphoma Research Foundation provides an unrivaled opportunity to learn the art and science of clinical research from the experts. I think this program serves as a foundation to not only build essential skills in study design and methodology, statistical analysis and hypothesis testing but also to forge lasting collaborations with colleagues and move lymphoma research forward.”